– Christa Rapoport is the chief compliance officer for independent benefits consulting and brokerage firm Corporate Synergies Group, Inc. The views expressed are her own. –

The House of Representatives last night passed the Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), as well as the Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872).

While the final details are being ironed out, now the big question is: what does that mean for small businesses?

The biggest change is that employers with more than 50 full-time equivalents (FTE’s) will be considered large employers. Therefore, the most essential compliance step is for you to identify how many full time employees (about 40 hours) or FTE’s you have working for you. Employers near the magic number of 50 FTE’s will have to make sure you accurately count your employees. Keep records for each non-exempt worker, and certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned.

Once you understand your employee count, you can determine your options or penalty calculations. You may want to analyze your employee count on a quarterly or monthly schedule based on how close you are to the federal goal post of 50 FTE’s.