Last week the Supreme Court handed down several major decisions that will affect the lives of countless Americans. It is supremely important that all small business owners understand how these rulings could affect their businesses. To find out how, read below.
1. The Affordable Care Act Ruling
In this ruling, The Supreme Court decided that the subsidies for low-income families, that are an integral part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are constitutional, whether their policies are purchased on state or federal exchanges. Perhaps more importantly, the Court ruled that the subsidies must be upheld by future administrations, so any incoming president will not be able to overturn the subsidies.
2. The marriage equality ruling
In perhaps the highest-profile ruling the Supreme Court has made in some time, the Court decided that all U.S. states must allow same sex marriage, and each state must recognize same-sex unions performed in other states. This ruling allows homosexual couples to enjoy the same benefits of marriage that have long been available to heterosexual couples, such as tax advantages, access to a partner’s health care benefits and rights of inheritance.
What does the ACA court ruling mean for small business owners?
What doesn’t change: The existing provisions of the Affordable Care Act do not change. If your business has been required to offer health insurance for your employees, you must continue to do so. If you were not required to offer insurance, you still aren’t, until your company grows past 50 employees.
What changes: If your business has been required to offer health insurance for your employees, you must continue to do so. If you were not required to offer insurance, you still aren’t, unless your company grows past 50 employees. if you have fewer than 50 employees, you can still offer them health insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). You are not required to contribute to your employees’ premiums but if you do, you may be eligible for a tax credit.
What does the ACA ruling mean for small business employees?
This decision means employees that are at the lower end of the pay scale should still be able to afford health insurance through the ACA if their employer doesn’t provide this benefit. If the subsidies were eliminated, low-wage workers in many states would have a great incentive to seek employment with companies that offer health insurance benefits.
What Do Small Business Owners Need to Know About the Gay Marriage Ruling?
The same-sex marriage ruling means that your employees who are in same-sex relationships can get married and, when they do, they will have the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses. A spouse can be covered on a family health insurance plan, regardless of gender. If an employee participates in a company 401k plan, their spouse is automatically the beneficiary unless they opt out, regardless of gender. Any other benefits, like parental leave, that are available to heterosexual couples must also be extended to homosexual couples.
The ruling on same-sex marriage was quite broad, and extends to providing the same rights to everyone, regardless of their sexual preference. This may open the door to more discrimination lawsuits, so now may be a good time to ensure that your employees, particularly managers, are aware of the definition of discrimination and its risks. Keeping abreast of changing laws and regulations is an important part of managing your small business.