New legislation clarifies Affordable Care Act’s seasonal employment definition

News / FBNews May 10, 2018

Recently introduced in the Senate, the Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality (STARS) Act of 2018 (S. 2670) provides much-needed clarification to the employer mandate’s seasonal worker exemption within the Affordable Care Act.  By clearly defining seasonal employment, the bill would make it easier for large seasonal employers to comply with the ACA requirement to offer health insurance to full-time employees, according to Farm Bureau.

Under the ACA, large employers are required to offer health care coverage to their full-time employees or pay a penalty if an employee buys health insurance on an exchange using a tax credit. To determine if one qualifies as an “applicable large employer” that must offer health care coverage, the employer must go through multiple steps to determine if they average 50 or more full-time employees and/or full-time equivalents over the course of the year.

Though the law grants an exemption for small seasonal employers, the rules—like different definitions of a seasonal worker and a seasonal employee—are burdensome and confusing.

The STARS Act harmonizes the definitions of seasonal worker and seasonal employee as a person hired for a position for which customary annual employment is six months or less. It also streamlines the complex calculation that employers must use to determine if they are applicable large employers.

“This simplified standard will reduce the administrative burden for seasonal employers and help them to comply with the ACA requirement to offer insurance coverage to full-time employees,” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to senators urging them to cosponsor the legislation.

The Farm Bureau-supported legislation was introduced by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Angus King (I-Maine). Similar legislation (H.R. 3956) was introduced in the House last year.

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