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Expert warns execs of delaying further on preparing for health reform

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There are strategic decisions employers can make to continue growing and prospering while also complying with the Affordable Care Act, which in 2014 requires employers with more than 50 full-time workers to either provide health coverage, or pay a penalty, according to Jack Wellman, president of the Edison-based temporary staffing firm Joulé Inc.

What needs to change, however, is a tendency among many employers to postpone dealing with the ACA, said Wellman, who heads a national company that supplies temporary clerical, administrative and accounting workers, as well as temporary engineering, science and clinical staff.

"There is a huge amount of resistance, as if the ACA would somehow go away — but it really is coming down the pike," Wellman said. He advises employers to tackle the complicated math to determine if they have 50 or more full-time workers. Those over 50 can reduce their full-time headcount by increased use of part-timers, by taking on temporary workers who are employees of a staffing firm or by outsourcing noncore functions to third parties.

Wellman said Joulé does not do outsourcing, which he said is provided by a number of third-party firms to whom employers can outsource such functions as IT, delivery, mailroom and facility maintenance. The strategic use of part-time and temporary workers and outsourcing "at least gives you a little bit of running room to grow your business before you hit that magic 50," Wellman said.

His advice to businesses still in denial about the ACA: "If you have a challenge, the best thing to do is try to figure it out and try to deal with it." He said employers should be working closely with their health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and staffing and outsourcing consultants. "The most important thing is to think long term, but employers need to start now" on long-term planning to comply with the ACA, he said.

Wellman said he's seeing an increased use of temporary staffing that may be motivated by economic uncertainly as well as by the ACA: "Everybody is still concerned about the long term, so people are hiring as flexibly as they can."

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