On February 10, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Treasury issued final regulations for the employer shared responsibility provisions of ACA, commonly referred to as the "employer mandate." The final regulations are 227 pages in length and include a number of provisions intended to ease the burden on the business community with respect to compliance with the employer mandate, including a staged implementation of the "pay or play" penalty. For employers with 100 or more full-time employees, the employer mandate remains effective 2015, but compliance has been softened. Specifically, to avoid the "pay or play" penalty for 2015, such an employer must offer affordable health coverage that provides minimum value to only 70% of its full-time employees (as opposed to 95%, as otherwise required). For employers with 50 to 99 full-time employees, the "pay or play" penalty has been delayed until 2016, provided that an employer meets transition requirements, including restrictions against certain reductions in the employer's workforce (except for bona fide business reasons) or health coverage as in effect on February 9, 2014. 

Today, the IRS and Department of Treasury issued FAQs on these provisions. Stay tuned for a separate Benefits Alert which will address the final regulations in greater detail.