Two experts on Friday discussed a pair of political certainties — the Affordable Care Act and legalized marijuana — that will likely affect businesses in the coming months.
One of the problems with these issues, they agreed, concerns the absence of rules, regulations and guidelines that businesses can use to prepare for coming deadlines.
Valarie Zeeck, an attorney with the Tacoma law firm Gordon Thomas Honeywell, and Chrystina Solum, of Eisenhower & Carlson, spoke at Friday’s WorkWell Awards luncheon hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.
Zeeck began her presentation by saying that being asked to summarize the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 15 minutes was akin to briefly summarizing the plot of “Downton Abbey” to a group of NASCAR drivers.
She did explain, however, that the law will affect businesses with 25 or fewer employees differently than businesses with 25-50 employees, and that the standards are different again for businesses with 50 or more employees.
An initial 144-page set of regulations has been prepared, she said, “and that’s just the beginning.”
She advised that business owners and managers should contact their insurance brokers or attorneys for proper guidance. “You need the experts,” she said.
Zeeck, whose husband, David, is publisher of The News Tribune, also recommended that the Internal Revenue Service provides a good tutorial at its website, irs.gov.
Solum offered what was probably welcome advice to the group by saying the state’s marijuana law will not mean free and open on-the-job use of cannabis products.
“Employers are still free to insist on a drug-free workplace,” she said.
She listed several reasons why businesses should ban marijuana use at work, including the possibility of low productivity and the chance that a business could be held liable for certain problems that could occur.
She advised that owners and managers should clearly state and define company policies, including those pertaining to drug testing, in employee handbooks.C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 c.r.roberts@ thenewstribune.com