Heading into the FAN Annual Meeting Sept. 4-7 in Washington, D.C., Franchising World spoke with U.S. Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta for an exclusive Q&A about Association Health Plans, joint employer, workforce development, the skills gap, and the implications of the tax bill on franchises. Read about all these topics and more at franchise.org.
FW: The recent rulemaking on Association Health Plans (AHPs) has tremendous potential for franchise businesses. How can IFA members--both franchisors and franchisees--take advantage of this new opportunity?
Sec. Acosta: Franchisors and franchisees alike can benefit from Association Health Plans. AHPs allow businesses to band together by geography or industry as if they were a single, large employer to obtain health care coverage through the large group market. Important for franchisors and franchisees, AHPs do not affect the joint employment status of any company that joins an association.
For example, franchisees in an industry, such as the restaurant industry, can join together with independently owned mom-and-pop shops in the same industry through an association. A single industry could also establish a national or large regional AHP.
President Trump expanded AHPs to help America's small business owners and their employees access affordable healthcare options. Previously, these businesses could purchase health insurance for their employees only through the often more expensive small group market. The scale and efficiencies of these associations give businesses more options at a better price.
FW: Uncertainty surrounding joint-employer regulations is a challenge for the franchise business model.
What is the Administration doing to address this issue?
Sec. Acosta: The Trump Administration is committed to eliminating excessive regulations that hold back job creators and job seekers. The Department of Labor withdrew joint employment guidance from the previous Administration because it undermined longstanding principles of the employment relationship under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.
Moreover, this guidance was issued without an opportunity for public input. DOL's Wage and Hour Division continues to make compliance assistance a priority and provides confidential assistance to employers, including those with joint employment questions. DOL believes that employers can succeed, and ultimately create more jobs, when they understand how...