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Administration Issues Guidance on Full-Time Employees Under Affordable Care Act

Late Friday, on the eve of Labor Day weekend, the Obama administration issued long-awaited guidance designed to assist employers to identify their full-time employees for purposes of either offering health coverage or paying penalties under the Affordable Care Act. The coverage and penalty provisions take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The centerpiece of the guidance is a “look-back” or stability period safe harbor, which ASA and its allies have been advocating for more than a year. The guidance will allow employers to select an up to 12-month measurement period (look back) for both “ongoing” and new “variable hour employees” to determine whether they are full-time employees. A new variable hour employee is defined as an individual who, based on the facts and circumstances on the individual’s start date, the employer cannot reasonably determine will work full-time (i.e., average of at least 30 hours per week) or, if the employee is expected to work full-time initially, whose period of full-time employment is expected to be of limited duration and the employer cannot reasonably determine that the employee will work full-time over the course of the measurement period.

ASA believes that the definition of variable hour employee will cover the great majority of temporary employees employed by staffing firms.

The guidance invites comments on whether other safe harbor methods should be available to employers to determine the full-time status of “temporary staffing employees, short-term assignment employees, employees hired into high turnover positions, and other categories of employees that may present special issues.” ASA plans to meet with administration officials in the near future to discuss whether additional rules would be appropriate for the staffing industry.

The guidance issued Friday is not the last word on the subject. Formal proposed regulations will be issued for public comment at some future date yet to be determined. But the administration says employers can rely on the guidance at least through 2014.

ASA will provide a more detailed analysis of the guidance in a special workshop at Staffing World 2012, and in Webinars and other informational materials once the association has completed a review and discussed with the administration any remaining issues specifically applicable to the staffing industry.

A copy of the look-back/stability period safe harbor guidance is available at On that site, you can also find separate guidance explaining how the look-back rules coordinate with the 90-day waiting period provisions of the law.

Korn/Ferry International Buys Global Novations (09/04/12)

Korn/Ferry International has purchased Global Novations LLC in a move to bolster its leadership and talent consulting business. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Korn/Ferry says the acquisition will also give it better access to talent management efforts that emphasize diversity and inclusion. Boston-based Global Novations’ offerings include online learning, diagnostic consulting, development, and education and licensing. It has served clients in more than 40 countries. The buyout is expected to add to Korn/Ferry’s earnings in the first year of ownership.

Five Questions About Today’s Job Market

Wall Street Journal (09/03/12) David Wessel

Of the 6.1 million workers who lost jobs they had held for at least three years between 2009 and 2011, 45% remained unemployed in January 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Around 50% of those who found full-time positions had to accept lower wages, and for 33% of these workers, wages were at least 20% less than they earned previously. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are 3.4 jobless workers for every job opening, which is less than the more than six jobless for every opening reported in mid-2009, when the economy bottomed out, but more than the two unemployed workers per job opening at the start of the recession in December 2007. New York Federal Reserve economists believe a skills mismatch is responsible for no more than one-third of the rise in unemployment, indicating that stronger economic growth would resolve most of the unemployment plaguing the country right now.

Why You Should Consider Temporary Work

AARP (08/31/12) Kerry Hannon

AARP reports that a survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals by ASA corporate partner CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive indicates that temporary or contract workers are being hired by over 33% of U.S. companies this year. Gwenn Rosener, founder of the Washington, DC, area staffing firm Flexforce Professionals, says small businesses often look to temporary workers to avoid overstaffing and to test out future employees. The article notes that temporary employment may be sensible for retirees in need of extra cash or individuals interested in trying out new careers or eventually landing full-time positions. Many small businesses are hiring temporary or contract workers as bookkeepers and accountants, human resource managers, office managers, sales representatives, and Web strategists.

Countdown to Savings—Register for Staffing World® 2012

The advance registration deadline for Staffing World, the ASA annual convention and expo, is this Friday, Sept. 7. Save up to $150 per person when you register this week at

Free Webinar on Staffing Industry Legislative and Regulatory Issues

Next Tuesday, Sept. 11, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time, you won’t want to miss the free ASAProWebinar “Staffing Industry Legislative and Regulatory Issues.” The ASA legal team will discuss potential lawsuits resulting from government guidance on the use of criminal background checks, mandates related to the health care reform law that are set to take effect in 2014, possible business changes resulting from the November elections, and other pressing issues that can affect your bottom line.

Register online at

ASAPro Webinar—Get Your House in Order With Sales Executives Who Build Business

Don’t miss next week’s ASAPro Webinar “Keep Your Own House in Order: Hire and Manage Sales Executives Committed to Building Business,” Thursday, Sept. 13, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time. Chris Cosmos will help you identify impediments to success, share customer relationship management strategies, and present a radical approach to sales management that does not put “people first.” Register online at

ASAPro Webinars qualify for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal and are $295 for nonmembers. Join ASA and enjoy ASAPro Webinars for FREE.