G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Pax Dickinson links to an article in the Orlando Sentinel about a company beta testing a plan to limit the number of hours worked by its employees in order to limit its exposure to ObamaCare. That company is Darden Restaurants, who I work for, and which is also in tight with the Obama administration. From the article:
In an emailed statement, Darden said staffing changes are “just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business. There are still many unanswered questions regarding the health care regulations and we simply do not have enough information to make any decisions at this time.”
Analysts say many other companies, including the White Castle hamburger chain, are considering employing fewer full-timers because of key features of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to go into effect in 2014. Under that law,large companies must provide affordable health insuranceto employees working an average of at least 30 hours per week.
If they do not, the companies can face fines of up to $3,000 for each employee who then turns to an exchange — an online marketplace — for insurance.
“I think a lot of those employers, especially restaurants, are just going to ensure nobody gets scheduled more than 30 hours a week,” said Matthew Snook, partner with human-resources consulting company Mercer.
Darden said its goal at the test restaurants is to keep employees at 28 hours a week.
This would not impact me because I make it a rule to not work more than 27 hours at this job. Truly, that is the actual number of hours that I’ve determined I can work in one given week at this job before teetering over into insanity. I can’t deal with needy people for any longer than that.
But what is quite interesting about this is that Darden’s CEO Clarence Otis is (was?) a big-time Obama supporter. He’s even paired up with Michelle Obama to encourage more healthy eating habits among young people. But while Otis-Obama operate a superficial progressive campaign to limit the drag of obesity on the forthcoming health care initiative, the company is limiting the ability of workers to procure health insurance through them.
This could provide a golden opportunity for the Romney campaign if it wants to pursue a strategy of hitting ObamaCare. The restaurant industry is one that many regular voters can understand. They may not understand Solyndra or the cheating that occurs on Wall Street, but they’d understand what’s going on here with Darden and many other restaurants: ObamaCare hurts their bottom line and causes them to limit the number of hours that an employee can work. Companies don’t want to deal with a massive scale up in the number of full-time workers who are forced to purchase health insurance and who would naturally look to their employers for coverage.
Part of this is shaudenfreude, and part of it is disgust for my company which talks out of both sides of its mouth by touting progressive changes and its position on the Fortune 100 list for best companies to work for while also both cutting back on its employees ability to obtain their forced coverage and by slashing wages for bussers and bartenders, which I’ve noted was sold to employees at our restaurant as a Trojan Horse. It was all “ah, this won’t really hurt anyone” even while it clearly had an impact. From the Sentinel:
Darden has been aggressively keeping labor costs down. It has cut bartenders’ pay and required servers to share tips with them. It also has eliminated busboy positions at Red Lobster and reduced the number of servers working each shift at that chain.
Labor costs as a percentage of sales have dropped steadily from 33.1 percent in fiscal 2010 to 30.8 percent in the most recent quarter.