ARLINGTON, Va. — Retail associations welcomed the announcement Tuesday that the Obama Administration would delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate by one year.


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“We’re pleased that the administration recognized the unique challenges facing the food retail community, and our dynamic workforce, and offered 2014 as a transitional year,” said Jennifer Hatcher, senior vide president of government and public affairs at Food Marketing Institute here. “In the meantime, we will encourage our members to test the systems through voluntary reporting in 2014.”

The ACA previously had required businesses with 50 or more employees to provide “affordable health care coverage” to full-time workers, effective Jan. 1, 2014, or face steep fines. That mandate will now be delayed by one year, after heavy lobbying by retail groups.

According to some reports, many employers — especially small- to midsized firms — were counting on health care reform being repealed and would not have been prepared to meet the requirements by Jan. 1.

Peter Larkin, president and chief executive officer, National Grocers Association, said NGA “applauds” the delay.

“NGA has worked diligently educating Congress and the Administration on the complexities and challenges grocers are facing in complying with the law by Jan. 1, 2014, especially given the delays the administration has faced in issuing guidance to employers,” he said. “NGA continues to will work with our member companies to assist them in complying with the law, while also working with Congress to address one of the most problematic provisions of the law for grocers, which is the definition of a full-time employee.”

Read more: ACA Adds Complexity to Contract Talks

Full-time is currently defined as working 30 hours per week or more for the purposes of the law.                                

The National Retail Federation said the one-year delay “will provide employers and businesses more time to update their health care coverage without threat of arbitrary punishment.”

“We appreciate the administration’s recognition of employer concerns and hope it will allow for greater flexibility in the future.”

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