Small businesses will have more time to comply with the employer mandate requirements of the federal health care overhaul, the Obama administration announced Monday.

Under final regulations issued by the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service, businesses that employ between 50 and 99 full-time workers will have until January 2016 to comply with the employer mandate to provide health insurance, Accounting Today reported.

 

Those that claim the exemption for 2015, however, will need to certify under penalty of perjury that they did not reduce their workforce to fewer than 100 employees in order to qualify.

 

Under the health reform law, workers are considered full-time employees and eligible for the mandated coverage if they work more than 30 hours per week. IRS officials said phasing in the penalty should help workers who work 35 hours per week but have been considered part-time workers, For purposes of calculating the penalty, the employer would not have to include part-time and seasonal workers in the calculations.

 

If employers decide not to offer insurance to their employees, they will be required to pay an "employer shared responsibility" payment  beginning in 2015 to help offset the costs to taxpayers of their employees getting tax credits through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

 

Large employers with 100 or more full-time employees were also given additional time. The proposed regulations had originally required that they offer coverage to 95 percent of their full-time employees starting in 2015.  That requirement has now been reduced to 70 percent in 2015 and 95 percent beginning in 2016.

 

However, there is no delay in the individual mandate that requires health insurance coverage for nearly all Americans this year.

 

Extending the employer mandate but not the individual mandate is unfair to America's smallest businesses and the self-employed, which largely fall within the individual health care market, the National Association for the Self-Employed said in a statement.

 

"We continue our call on the Administration to delay the individual mandate penalty in 2014 and extend open enrollment through the end of this year to allow for consumers to adequately access affordable health care," said Katie Vlietstra, vice president for government relations and public affairs for NASE.

 

The Treasury and the IRS said that future regulations would simplify reporting for businesses to substantially streamline the employer reporting requirements for employers that offer highly affordable coverage to all, or virtually all, of their full-time employees.