About ACA Look Back Group Measurement Periods

Affordable Care Act (ACA) look-back groups contain specific Standard Measurement, Administrative, and Stability periods.

Look back groups are HR company specific. A look-back group is assigned to one or more resources in HR Resources to enable Vista to properly calculate hours worked within a look-back measurement scheme.

With look back groups, you do the following:

  • Determine if part-time employees paid on an hourly basis are exceeding the full-time-hours threshold defined by ACA standards (30 hours minimum per week).

  • Gauge how a particular employee should be classified in ACA terms going forward —either part-time or full-time—based on historical data.

  • Run queries using these look-back periods against previously posted timecard data.

Subject to the rules governing the relationship between the length of the Measurement period and the Stability period, employers may use measurement periods and stability periods that differ either in length or in their starting and ending dates for the following categories of employees:

  • Collectively bargained employees and non-collectively bargained employees (union and non-union)

  • Salaried employees and hourly employees

  • Employees of different entities

  • Employees located in different States

Note: As per IRS Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions guidelines, "a full-time employee is an individual employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week," and must be offered health coverage for ACA compliance. For more information on determining full-time employees for purposes of shared responsibility for employers regarding health coverage, see document 4980H at the Internal Revenue Service website at http://www.irs.gov/.

The following look-back Start and End dates on the Look Back Period tab on the HR ACA Look Back Group form allow you to specify time periods that can be used to evaluate existing employees for ACA compliance: 

  • Standard Measurement - a standard measurement period an employer chooses to apply to ongoing employees. This is when the hours worked are being counted. An “ongoing employee” is generally an employee who has been employed by the employer for at least one complete standard measurement period. This is the range of time measured for employee classification and eligibility purposes.

  • Administrative - (optional) an administrative measurement period between the Standard Measurement period and the associated Stability period. This is the range of time used to collect information and make decisions about the results of the standard measurement period. The administrative period must immediately follow the standard measurement period and may last up to 90 days.

Note: If you are using the optional Administrative period, your Admin Start date must immediately follow your Measurement End date. Similarly, if you are using an Administrative period, your Stability Start date must immediately follow your Admin End date.
  • Stability - the period of time to which the results of the standard measurement period apply. For example, if the employee averages 30 hours per week during the measurement period, they should be classified as full-time for the entire stability period. Stability period generally corresponds to a benefit plan year, when coverage is offered.

You can set up similar initial measurement periods when setting up a new employee on the Payroll Info tab of HR Resources. When a new employee is hired, the employee can be placed into an Initial Measurement that has its own set of dates. Once the employee completes the Initial Measurement period, he or she can fall into Standard Measurement. It's also possible that the initial measurement periods and the standard measurement periods can run concurrently.

Combined, the Standard and Administrative periods cannot exceed the length of time defined in the Stability period.