“Full-time employment” has traditionally been defined as working at least 40 hours per week. But in its effort to help millions of uninsured Americans obtain health insurance, the Obama administration decreed that, under Obamacare, full-time employment is classified as working at least 30 hours per week. This is the crux of the employer mandate — businesses with at least 50 employees must provide health insurance to those who work at least 30 hours per week or pay a hefty fine.
In terms of unpopularity, the employer mandate is second only to the individual mandate. Many employers have cut back on workers’ hours in order to avoid having to provide them health insurance, which has had an obvious adverse affect on the workers themselves. In order to lighten the blow of this mandate, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would change the definition of “full-time employment” under Obamacare from 30 hours per week to the traditional 40 hours:
The Senate bill’s co-sponsors, Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the provision had resulted in an even more perverse incentive: to reduce employee hours to just 29 a week.
“From grocery store employees to school cafeteria managers to adjunct professors at colleges, part-time workers across many industries have seen their hours cut to comply with the healthcare law,” Donnelly said.
Collins said the concerns were not hypothetical: “[M]ore than 450 employers have already cut work hours or staffing levels in response to the law as of September 2013. Employees of for-profit businesses are not the only ones who are threatened by this illogical definition of full-time work,” she said. Collins was citing data first reported last September by Investor’s Business Daily, which analyzed Labor Department data.
A companion bill will be voted on in the House, possibly Thursday. Unfortunately, the White House has said it would veto any such legislation.