Another day, another administratively enacted Obamacare delay. But today’s employer mandate delay, as outlined in the final rules, has interesting terms and conditions to qualify.

Originally, as the law states, the employer mandate was supposed to take effect January 1, 2014 and would force all employers with more than 50 full-time employees—defined as those who work at least 30 hours per week—to provide health insurance for employees or pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee (excluding the first 30) or $3,000 per employee that receives a premium subsidy, whichever is less.

In July 2013, the Obama Administration unilaterally delayed the employer mandate for all employers for one year.

The final rules now states that employers with 100 or more full-time workers will be held to the mandate in 2015 but that it will be gradually phased in. According to the Treasury fact sheet:

“To avoid a payment for failing to offer health coverage, employers need to offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent in 2016 and beyond, helping employers that, for example, may offer coverage to employees with 35 or more hours, but not yet to that fraction of their employees who work 30 to 34 hours. “

However, those with at least 50 full-time employees but fewer than 100 full-time employees won’t be subject to the mandate until 2016 if they meet  certain eligibility conditions (Pages 123-125), which include:

  • No layoffs or cutting hours because of Obamacare. “During the period beginning on February 9, 2014, and ending on December 31, 2014, the employer does not reduce the size of its workforce or the overall hours of service of its employees in order to satisfy the workforce size condition set.” (emphasis added) The rules states that employers can still reduce their workforce or employees’ hours for “bona fide business reasons.” An example given is “changes in the economic marketplace in which the employer operates.”

Translation: the employer can still adjust hours and employment as long as they don’t blame Obamacare for the changes.

  • No more dropping existing coverage. The employer “does not eliminate or materially reduce the health coverage, if any, it offered as of February 9, 2014.”

Note that there still is no individual mandate delay so even though employers get a reprieve, ordinary Americans do not.