Dem Introduces Bill to End Obamacare Incentive that's 'Slashing Workers' Hours'

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | August 2, 2013 | 4:43 PM EDT

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois) today introduced the Forty Hours Is Full Time Act of 2013 (H.R. 2988), a bill he says would remove the incentive created in Obamacare for employers to cut the hours of part-time employees by changing the healthcare law's definition of "full-time employment" from 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week, the standard work week widely recognized in law and by employers, when applying the employer mandate.

"Even with the Administration's recent decision to delay the Obamacare employer mandate for one year, we already know some employers are preparing to meet the law's guidelines by slashing workers' hours and forcing them to work 29 hours a week or less. This is reducing the take-home pay for millions of Americans at a time when they can least afford it," Rep. Lipinski said.

"The Forty Hours Is Full Time Act keeps the usual 40 hour full-time work week in place without sacrificing the goal of providing affordable, quality healthcare to Americans," he added.

Under Obamacare, employers with more than 50 full-time employees risk having to pay a fine if they do not offer health insurance to their workers. According to a recent University of California Berkeley Labor Center study, as many as 2.3 million Americans, mostly hourly workers in the restaurant, nursing home, retail and service industries, would see their hours cut as their employers adapt to the new rules.

The Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2013 mirrors a bipartisan Senate bill (S. 701) co-sponsored by another Democrat, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

International Franchise Association President and CEO Steve Caldeira cheered the bill's introduction and called Obamacare's current definition of full-time "unworkable":

"IFA has worked diligently to educate lawmakers since the law was passed that the definition of a full-time employee under the ACA is unworkable for small business franchise owners who work across various industries, including restaurants, retail, hotel and lodging, and service-related businesses.

"This bill will provide important relief from the Affordable Care Act's mandates to both franchisees and small-business owners who are responsible for creating one out of every eight private-sector jobs in America, while allowing them to grow their businesses and provide flexible work hours to their employees.  As members return to their districts during this August recess, they will be hearing from franchise business leaders about the impact this law is having on their business and we urge Congress to put employees first and support this reasonable and practical legislation."

The Food Marketing Institute also applauded the bill, calling the current law "an impediment" to effective business management.

"Rep. Lipinski's shared legislation, along with S. 1188 and H.R. 2575 [the Save American Workers Act of 2013, also introduced in June], demonstrates the growing bicameral and bipartisan consensus that the ACA's 30-hours-per-week definition for full-time employees needs to be addressed in order for the law to be effective and to minimize the disruption to the American workforce," said Jennifer Hatcher, FMI senior vice president of government and public affairs.

"While the Administration has taken steps to provide some flexibility within the scope of the health coverage law, the ACA's 30-hour-per-week definition for full-time employees is an impediment to how food retailers manage their workforces, adjust work schedules and offer employee benefits well beyond health care."