WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 2, 2013 -
Part-timers to lose pay amid health act's new math
Many part-timers are facing a double whammy from President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The law requires large employers offering health insurance to include part-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. But rather than provide healthcare to more workers, a growing number of employers are cutting back employee hours instead.
The result: Not only will these workers earn less money, but they'll also miss out on health insurance at work.
Consider the city of Long Beach. It is limiting most of its 1,600 part-time employees to fewer than 27 hours a week, on average. City officials say that without cutting payroll hours, new health benefits would cost up to $2 million more next year, and that extra expense would trigger layoffs and cutbacks in city services.
Part-timer Tara Sievers, 43, understands why, but she still thinks it's wrong.
"I understand there are costs to healthcare reform, but it is surely not the intent of the law for employees to lose hours," said the outreach coordinator at the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. "It's ridiculous the city is skirting the law."
Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of other hourly workers may also see smaller paychecks in the coming year because of this response to the federal healthcare law. The law exempts businesses with fewer than 50 full-time workers from this requirement to provide benefits.
But big restaurant chains, retailers and movie theaters are starting to trim employee hours. Even colleges are reducing courses for part-time professors to keep their hours down and avoid paying for their health premiums.
Overall, an estimated 2.3 million workers nationwide, including 240,000 in California, are at risk of losing hours as employers adjust to the new math of workplace benefits, according to research by UC Berkeley. All this comes at a time when part-timers are being hired in greater numbers as U.S. employers look to keep payrolls lean.
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NOTE: In response to a letter
from Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN), the U.S. Department of Treasury admitted
that neither it nor the Internal Revenue Service have examined how the health care law will affect employment. Committee leaders also asked
the U.S. Department of Labor to provide an analysis that describes how the law will affect employees’ wages, as required by Section 1513(c) of the Affordable Care Act. Despite two inquiries
and weeks of delay, the department has failed to respond.
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