Is Obama Health Care Responsible for Companies Shifting to Part-Time Employees?

It seems that Obama health care is already having an impact on some industries, as some are already shifting from full-time workers to part-time employees as 2014 quickly approaches.  Recently, it was announced that Red-Lobster-LogoDarden Restaurants, Inc. will experiment with shifting full-time employees to part-time status; this change is because of Obama health care, and the impending health benefit requirements which will go into effect in 2014.  Darden Restaurants owns the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurant chains.

Beginning just over one year from now, companies with 50 or more employees who are full-time will be required to offer workers basic health benefits; if they do not comply, they will risk paying a fine.  Although studies which have been conducted demonstrate that Obama health care increases health care costs for larger companies only slightly, many large employers still fear the health care law and what it will mean for their companies.

So, what does this mean for Obama health care?  It’s still a bit early to tell, but the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Statistics, Paul Keckley, who notes that it may be necessary to implement follow-up legislation to make sure that companies cannot avoid providing coverage by shifting more employees to part-time, said that, “There’s not a company in those industries that aren’t looking at this.”

McDonald’s has already been considering the impact of Obama health care on its bottom line.  Just this summer, a conference call between investors and McDonald’s Corp. Chief Financial Officer Peter Bensen noted that the part timepopular fast-food chain was essentially analyzing the numerous factors which will impact health care costs; this included the number of full-time workers employed by the company.

Even before Obama health care came into play, employers have looked for ways to cut employees’ benefits and increase contributions to health plans.  In many cases, companies only have to cut 8 hours from an employee’s total work hours for a one-week period for those employees to be considered part-time.

According to news reports, Darden has engaged in anti-labor practices in the past.  Recently, a labor activist group sued Darden for allegedly circumventing the federal minimum wage; supposedly, the company was paying as little as $2.13 per hour which was said to be a “tip credit wage.”

health care reformIt’s very apparent that companies put profits over employees’ well-being and satisfaction, however Obama health care has many large companies and corporations very worried over the costs they will face to provide health coverage for employees – or the fines they will be forced to pay.  Between the new health care law and companies working vigorously to protect their own bottom lines, it looks as though the employees could be “hung out to dry” once again.

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