The Treasury Department issued final regulations that offer transitional relief for employers that are subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as the “play-or-pay” rules.  In particular, the play-or-pay penalties will not apply until 2016 for employers that have between 50 and 99 full-time employees.  Additionally, large employers (i.e., those with 100 or more employees) can avoid penalties in 2015 by offering “minimum essential coverage” (includes “minimum value” and “affordability” components) to at least 70 percent of their “full-time employees.”  The previously-issued proposed regulations provided that employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees would be assessed penalties under the play-or-pay provisions if they failed to offer minimum essential coverage to at least 95 percent of their full-time employees starting in 2015.  Under these final regulations, that rule does not go into full effect until 2016.  The final regulations also offer guidance regarding the classification of employees in certain occupations as either full-time or part-time for purposes of these penalties.

Along with the final regulations (which are available here), the Treasury Department also published a “fact sheet” (available here), and a series of questions and answers (available here) to provide related guidance on the play-or-pay rules and the transition relief.