The law says an employer with 50 or more full-time employees may be subject to a tax penalty if it fails to offer coverage to “its full-time employees (and their dependents).”
Employers asked for guidance, and the Obama administration provided it, saying that a dependent is an employee’s child under the age of 26.
“Dependent does not include the spouse of an employee,” the proposed rules say.
Thus, employers must offer coverage to children of an employee, but do not have to make it affordable. And they do not have to offer coverage at all to the spouse of an employee.
Under the rules, employers must offer coverage to employees in 2014 and must offer coverage to dependents as well, starting in 2015.
The new rules apply to employers that have at least 50 full-time employees or an equivalent combination of full-time and part-time employees. A full-time employee is a person employed on average at least 30 hours a week. And 100 half-time employees are considered equivalent to 50 full-time employees.
Thus, the government said, an employer will be subject to the new requirement if it has 40 full-time employees working 30 hours a week and 20 half-time employees working 15 hours a week.