The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has just released a final regulation allowing more employers to band together to form Association Health Plans (AHPs). The goal of the rule is to allow small employers to use the pricing power and more flexible regulations that apply to a “large employer” plan to provide more affordable health care. This advisory focuses on the changes made by the new rule and its effect on the group market, especially in Washington State, where AHPs are already popular. Part 2 will discuss the ability of independent contractors to use AHPs as an alternative to the individual market.
UPDATE: The Seattle Office of Labor Standards published its final Paid Sick and Safe Time rules, available here. The rule defining the rate of pay for paid sick leave has been modified and reopened for public comment. As originally proposed, the rate of pay for PSST, known as “normal hourly compensation,” would have included holiday pay and premium pay. Under the new proposal, the definition of normal hourly compensation will align with state law to include differentials, however holiday pay and premium pay would be excluded. OLS will accept comments on this proposed rule until 5:00 p.m. on June 19, 2018.
Under Washington’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law, eligible employees will be entitled to paid leave up to 12 weeks for their own serious health condition (medical leave) or for family care (family leave), up to 16 weeks combined family and medical leave, and up to 2 additional weeks for certain pregnancy complications. Starting on January 1, 2019, employers must begin remitting premiums and submitting quarterly reports for PFML. Starting January 1, 2020, employees may begin taking PFML leave.