Updated: The Affordable Care Act and the Impact on Retailers
The Affordable Care Act healthcare reform has significant ramifications for retailers. Companies that rely on manual tools and out-of-date Workforce Management technology face the increased risk of penalties, higher coverage costs, and more. With the extension of the deadline of the ACA statutory requirement for large employers (50 or more Full Time Equivalents or FTEs) to offer healthcare coverage to FTEs extended to Jan. 1, 2015, retailers still have time to put a comprehensive system in place.
“We know what the scheduling policies are for our part-time and full-time workers. But sometimes mistakes get made, and we overschedule.” That’s what a store manager for a specialty retailer in New England with more than 70 retail locations told me this week as she was standing in the aisle with her clipboard and pen in hand. “At what point do you catch the errors?” I asked. “Usually when it’s too late. We often don’t learn about errors until after the payroll period is closed,” she said.
“What tools do you use for labor scheduling,” I asked. “This,” she laughed, pointing at the clipboard. “And Excel on a computer in the office.”
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) signed in March 2010 has big ramifications for mid-sized and large retailers in terms of Human Resources and Workforce Management. With many ACA provisions set to kick in, starting in 2014, Human Resources, Finance, and Store Operations must decide how to navigate ACA and develop a strategic plan regarding the potential impact to their companies regarding numerous issues.
Whatever the overall HR and Workforce Management strategy retailers decide to take, ensuring ACA compliance in their labor operations practices will be critical. ACA issues facing retailers include potential penalties, higher health care costs, wages, and administrative expenses, according to the National Retail Federation’s dedicated healthcare reform section on its website. Companies that are unable to accurately track and analyze their Workforce Labor Scheduling and Time and Attendance practices face potentially significant financial consequences due to fines and increased healthcare coverage costs and taxes. Retailers must ensure decisions made at the executive level are followed consistently in stores. Companies that attempt to manage their labor operations processes using spreadsheets, paper reports, and other manual tools risk severe negative financial impact to their bottom line.
The good news is there is still time for retail companies to implement web-based Workforce Management solutions such as Optimized Labor Scheduling and Time and Attendance that enable them to ensure their schedules and actual time worked comply with HR policies. Labor Schedules are generated automatically for each store taking into account corporate workforce policies while also factoring in customer service needs, daily and ad-hoc tasks, and employee preferences and skills. Time and Attendance can ensure compliance with policies by monitoring actual hours and preventing employees from punching in or out when they are not supposed to. Store managers get real-time alerts about impending violations — on their PCs, tablets, and smart phones — and can respond to them proactively instead of after the fact. And modern, highly configurable web-based solutions from companies such as Reflexis can be implemented in weeks or months, not years. You can learn more about how Workforce Management solutions can help retailers solve their ACA related challenges by clicking here to read a detailed White Paper.
How is ACA affecting your company’s scheduling and time and labor practices? Do you still make your store managers perform Workforce Management tasks using clipboards and spreadsheets? Are you looking to implement up-to-date Workforce Management solutions?