The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – goes into effect on January 1, 2014.

If you’ve been following the news, you know that parts of the ACA are still up in the air (to put it mildly).

Still, if you own a business with 50 or more full-time employees, you may want to start paying attention to what the act will mean for you.

As the owner of a medium to large-sized business, you probably have your eye on the “Employer Mandate”, which dictates how many employees you’ll be required to provide health insurance (or cost-sharing benefits) to and when.

You may have heard that the Employer Mandate has been delayed until New Year’s Day of 2015. So you don’t have to worry about filling out a form and reporting your activities surrounding health care—yet.

That being said, it’s your business size during the coming calendar year that will determine if the mandate applies, as well as which employees are considered full or part-time. Note: a “full-time employee”, according to the law, is any employee who works 30 or more hours a week, or 130 or more hours a month.

Here’s where it gets dicey: If you don’t offer your employees minimal “essential” coverage according to the law, and even just one of your full-time employees is getting coverage via a state or federally-run health insurance exchange during any one month in 2015 – making them eligible for a tax credit or cost-sharing – then you’re going to owe a penalty for every employee you should have covered during that month.

So how can you prepare this year for the rules that are coming down the pike?

First things first: be aware of your average full-time employee count, and if it will add up to 50 or more in 2014. If you are near the cut-off, knowing who is working around 30 hours, and why, could be important. Even if you’re well over the threshold, you’ll want to keep track of who is working full-time, as this is more heads to be covered.

Disclaimer: We collected this information from a series of articles and sources. To read up on the ACA and small businesses on your own we recommend the following links:

Small Business Administration
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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