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A: An employer's size is based on the number of its employees. Generally, an employer with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents (FTEs), is considered a large employer. If you have fewer than 50 full-time employees or equivalents, you are considered a small employer.
Note, however, that if your business has fewer than 50 full-time employees, but is a member of an ownership group with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, your company would then be subject to the rules for large employers, per the IRS.
A: The so-called employer mandate refers to the Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions of the new health-care law. Under this provision, large businesses that don't offer group health insurance coverage to full-time employees that meets certain standards may be required to pay a Shared Responsibility assessment.
A: Effective January 1, 2015, companies that employ 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, must offer an affordable group health plan to their full-time employees (and dependent children up to age 26) or possibly be liable for a penalty.
Small businesses, those with fewer than 50 full-time employees, are not subject to this provision. In fact, small businesses have the option to purchase plans on state-run or federally run Exchanges and may qualify for tax credits to offset the cost of providing insurance coverage to employees.