Benefit News

Reminder: 2016 Annual Reporting Deadlines: San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance, San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, San Francisco Commuter Benefits Program

April 11, 2016

This Legislative Update is a reminder that April 30, 2016 is the deadline for employers subject to San Francisco's Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO) and those covered by San Francisco's Fair Chance Ordinance to file an annual report (2015 Employer Annual Reporting Form) to substantiate compliance with these ordinances for 2015. Covered employers who fail to submit the 2015 Employer Annual Reporting Form can be subject to a penalty of $500 per quarter.

In addition, to the extent applicable, certain employers covered by the San Francisco Commuter Benefits Program must complete a compliance reporting form by April 30, 2016.

Summary of Reporting Requirements

  • The 2015 Employer Annual Reporting Form includes a section for those employers subject to San Francisco's Fair Chance Ordinance. Thus, all employers covered by either the Fair Chance Ordinance or the HCSO will use the 2015 Employer Annual Reporting Form (available at https://etaxstatement.sfgov.org/olse/) to satisfy these reporting requirements.
  • The San Francisco Commuter Benefits Ordinance, in effect since 2009, applies to employers with more than 20 employees nationwide, but less than 50 full-time employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a location in San Francisco. New and non-compliant businesses must complete an annual compliance reporting form by April 30, 2015, available at http://sfenvironment.org/article/businessesemployees/san-francisco-commuter-benefits-ordinance-compliance-form. As the City is currently streamlining its reporting process, at this time, covered businesses that have previously reported their benefits program and are in compliance, are being requested not to complete the annual compliance reporting form.
  • As a reminder, the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program went into effect on September 30, 2014, and requires employers located within the geographic boundaries of the Bay Area Air District[1] that have 50 or more full-time employees within the Bay Area, to offer a commuter benefit option to their "covered" employees no later than September 30, 2014. Covered employers must complete an online registration process and update their registration form annually. Those who have not registered should do so as soon as possible at https://commuterbenefits.511.org/.

HCSO

Employers are covered by the HCSO during 2015, and thus subject to the 2015 annual reporting requirement, if they satisfy all of the following three requirements:

  • They employed one or more workers who performed work within the geographic boundaries of the City and County of San Francisco in any calendar quarter during 2015; and
  • They are a for-profit business with 20 or more persons who performed work in any calendar quarter during 2015, or a nonprofit business with 50 or more persons who performed work during any calendar quarter during 2015 (regardless of where the persons are located); and
  • They are required to obtain a valid San Francisco business registration certificate pursuant to Article 12 of the Business and Tax Regulations Code.

The following employers are not covered by the HCSO:

  • A private employer that employed fewer than 20 persons (including those employed outside of San Francisco) in each of the four calendar quarters of 2015; or
  • A non-profit corporation that employed fewer than 50 persons (including those employed outside of the City) in each of the four calendar quarters of 2015; or
  • Employers that had no covered employees in San Francisco during 2015.

Employers who were not covered by the HCSO in any quarter of 2015 are not required to complete the 2015 Employer Annual Reporting Form. They do not need to notify the City that they were not covered; no further action is required.

Fair Chance Ordinance

The Fair Chance Ordinance is codified in Article 49 of the San Francisco Police Code and Chapter 12T of the San Francisco Administrative Code, and applies to employers in the City and County of San Francisco with 20 or more employees worldwide, as well as City contractors, and housing providers. The ordinance specifically requires covered employers to review an individual's qualifications before inquiring about that person's arrest and conviction record(s) and related information, as well as require that they limit the use of criminal history information and follow certain procedures and restrictions when inquiring about and using that information.

San Francisco Commuter Benefits Ordinance

Businesses subject to the San Francisco Commuter Benefits Ordinance must offer one of the following employee benefit programs:

  • Employee-paid Pre-tax Deduction: Allow employees to exclude their transit or vanpool costs from taxable income to the maximum amount as allowed by federal law (currently $255 per month); or
  • Employer- paid Subsidy: Provide a transit pass or reimburse the employee for equivalent van pool charges in an amount that is at least equal in value to the purchase price of a monthly Muni "A" Pass; or
  • Employer-provided Transportation Service: Provide free bus or vanpool service to their employees.

Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program

Businesses subject to the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program must offer one of the following four commuter benefit options to its employees:

  • Employee-paid Pre-tax Deduction: Allow employees to exclude their transit or vanpool costs from taxable income to the maximum amount as allowed by federal law (currently $255 per month); or
  • Employer-paid Subsidy: Provide a subsidy of up to $75 per month to reduce or cover employees' monthly transit or vanpool costs; or
  • Employer-provided Transportation Service: Provide free or low cost bus, shuttle or vanpool service for employees, operated by or for the employer; or
  • Similar Alternative: Provide an alternative commuter benefit that is as effective in reducing single-occupancy commute trips as any of the above options.

Where To Get More Information

Helpful information regarding these ordinances can be obtained by accessing the following links:

For additional information, please contact your Burnham Benefits Consultant or Burnham Benefits at 949-833-2983 or inquiries@burnhambenefits.com.


[1] Those employers located in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma Counties.


Burnham Benefits does not engage in the practice of law and this publication should not be construed as the providing of legal advice or a legal opinion of any kind. The consulting advice we provide is intended solely to assist in assessing its compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and other applicable federal and state law requirements, and is based on Burnham Benefit’s interpretation of federal guidance in effect as of the date of this publication. To the best of our knowledge, the information provided herein, and assumptions relied on, are reasonable and accurate as of the date of this publication. Furthermore, to ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any tax advice contained in this publication is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of (i) avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any tax-related matter.


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