By - October 2, 2015

ACA Compliance and the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry encompasses a wide range of business types. And when it comes to Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance, the industry faces  specific issues:

  • A wide range of worker types
  • Tracking hours across the organization
  • Organizational complexities and reporting

Let’s dig into each of these issues and talk about best practices that HR professionals in the hospitality industry can use to address them.

Worker Types

While full-time employees make up senior staff and back office staff, shift employees are the backbone of the hospitality business – janitorial and housekeeping staff, banquet and kitchen staff, groundskeepers, front desk employees, ticket takers, and more.

Theme parks or ski resorts may rely heavily on seasonal employees. It’s important to understand and track these employees, and to understand how the “Look-back/stability Period Safe Harbor” applies to these employees in terms of offering health care benefits. Some resorts or hotels may hire non-US employees – as ski instructors or to provide multi-lingual service to customers. Obtaining social security numbers or Tax ID numbers to track these employees can take time, delays make it challenging to track hours accurately.

And there are very specific challenges to dealing with health benefits for Union employees – the employer may have to work with the union to get the necessary data. For more ACA information on working with Unions can be found here [hyperlink].

The most important consideration for all of these employees is that it’s vital to track hours accurately to avoid tax penalties. Determine where you may need time-keeping processes in place, and be sure you understand what data must be captured.

Tracking Hours Across the Organization

Within organizations there may be different systems used by different departments to track hours. Do dealers and pit bosses at a casino have the same time-keeping system as the cocktail and bar staff? Establishing continuity and understanding what all of the systems do and don’t capture is vital to accuracy in reporting.

The complexity multiplies for organizations with multiple locations. Hotels and motel chains often grow via acquisition – this can mean multiple hourly tracking systems between the organizations such as multiple payroll or HRIS systems. Multiple systems can make it challenging to coordinate gathering data across the organization, and if employees work at multiple locations, tracking all of their hours across the systems can be difficult, making eligibility determination a challenge.

The organization may also offer different benefits packages to different types of employee groups. Tracking benefit offerings, price, benefits year – all of this is important and can create additional complexity. The different groups must share data in order to provide accurate reporting.

Managing Systems and Data for Reporting

Payroll systems were designed to pay employees, and benefits administration platforms were designed to track benefits, but none of the HR systems in place were originally developed with ACA reporting in mind. It’s likely that you’ll need the assistance of the IT department in order to gather or access data for the organization. Leave data is also important to track – and while some Payroll systems do track this, it may require manual work to access that data for reporting.

Within larger organizations, it’s important to determine who will be doing the actual reporting – will the parent company take all the data and compile the reporting, or will each entity report individually? For organizations with locations across the country, it’s also important to be aware of the different safe harbors – the poverty level is different in Alaska and Hawaii, so that can complicate calculating affordability.

Best Practices For the Hospitality Industry

With the recent Supreme Court decision, we’re seeing lots of organizations who were hoping that ACA was going away start to panic. There’s likely to be a mad rush for answers, so if you’re one of those who hasn’t gotten started, start gathering data now – you’re already behind, and time is running out.

As an organization, assess your systems – especially hourly tracking systems – to ensure you’re set up to gather all the data that will be needed. Are you tracking leave? Can you access that? Where do you need new hourly tracking systems?

Determine how your organization will do the reporting – one entity, or individual entities? Don’t assume someone else is doing this, or you’ll be stuck trying to catch up.

Make sure you know your workforce and all of the types of employees. Understand the guidelines, or have someone on your team who understands things like the rules for seasonal employees.

And if you have them, be sure you have a process in place for non-US employees, and a path to communication with your union populations.

Need help with the ACA? We offer a full-service ACA Compliance & Reporting solution and specialize in large, complex businesses. Learn More About our ACA Solution.

Categorized in: