Employers who do not currently offer health insurance to
employees or who were considering dropping insurance due to new
restrictions under the 2010 Affordable Care Act have a lot more
time to prepare for compliance. U.S. government enforcement and
penalties for the employer mandate portion of the healthcare law
were delayed until 2015, and employer reporting rules were also
suspended, as was announced July 2, 2013. The "individual
mandate" and the state health-care insurance exchanges
continue to be on schedule. According to the New York Times, about 85 percent of Americans
are insured, so most individuals will be unaffected by the
individual mandate that requires all Americans to have health
The Affordable Care Act required employers with more than 50
full-time workers to offer them affordable health insurance
starting next year or pay penalties. This requirement has now been
delayed by one year, which delay is being widely reported as a
significant setback politically for the Obama administration (the
new rules were delayed until after the mid-term congressional
elections). However, there is also significant relief felt by the
business community. Business advocates had complained that the
rules were too complex for small businesses. For example, it is
difficult to determine how to count full-time employees for
purposes of eligibility and also hard to calculate whether it would
be less expensive for a small employer to pay the penalties than to
offer affordable healthcare. Some employers close to the 50
full-time employee minimum were reportedly considering cutting
their workforce or reducing the number of hours employees worked so
they would not have to comply. Other employers who offer health
insurance were weighing dropping the insurance and paying the
fines, rather than subsidizing the premiums as would be required to
make the insurance "affordable" for employees. Uninsured
employees would then purchase insurance through a health-care
exchange, to obtain required coverage.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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