Why is 30 hours a week full time?

Posted Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The recent government shutdown has made one thing abundantly clear: The Affordable Care Act will remain the law of the land as long as Democrats control the Senate and President Obama is in the White House.

With any near-term hope of a reversal eliminated, small-business owners everywhere face the imminent impact the law will have on their businesses and on their ability to provide for their employees.

Some commonsense changes could mitigate those burdens.

The president has acknowledged some of the law’s problems, choosing to delay the employer mandate until 2015 because of confusion about rules governing the way businesses will have to report employee health insurance information to the IRS.

As the president and lawmakers re-examine the employer mandate, they should also reconsider its most deleterious provision: the rule defining full time as 30 hours a week or more, rather than the traditional 40-hour workweek.

The impact of this rule is already causing some employers to not only limit the number of full-time employees hired, but also cut current employees’ hours to avoid the 30-hour threshold.

And it’s not just businesses that are being forced to slash the hours of employees in order to avoid unbearable costs. Local governments are doing the same, according to The Washington Post, which cites Middletown Township, N.J.; Bee County, Texas; and Brevard County, Fla.; as the latest examples of hours cut because of the Affordable Care Act.

As a longtime franchise chairman who oversaw the rapid growth of Mail Boxes Etc. (now The UPS Store), as well as I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt and Tasti D-Lite, and as current chairman of Procter & Gamble’s Agile Pursuits Franchising Inc., I have had the pleasure of helping thousands of people become small-business owners, grow their businesses and create new jobs in their communities.

To grow, businesses must be well-run and profitable — and in order to stay profitable, businesses must control labor expenses to keep them in line with revenue. This is all common sense to any business owner, but it’s not understood by people who think businesses are being selfish when they talk about cutting hours so that employees will still be considered part-time under the healthcare law.

The healthcare law forces employers to cut employee hours to avoid a huge price trigger — and that hurts employees who will now have lower income or be forced to find additional part-time work.

Small businesses may expand their part-time workforce in response to the law, but I don’t think part-time work is the goal for most Americans, for Democrats, or for the president.

If the Affordable Care Act isn’t reformed in some commonsense ways, it will impose burdensome and costly mandates on small businesses, slowing down America’s job engine.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses create 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs in America.

Thankfully, some in Congress are advancing smart, pragmatic bills to relieve small businesses like mine from these overly burdensome regulations. I applaud Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, for his support of legislation on the workweek definition.

Franchise owners have been consistent advocates for such logical reforms since the law’s passage.

Ultimately, successful small businesses need tailwinds, not headwinds.

Growing small businesses should not be rewarded with ever-rising regulatory burdens. We need relief, and we need it now.

Jim Amos of Southlake is the former CEO of Mail Boxes Etc. (now The UPS Store), and Tasti D-Lite and Planet Smoothie. jimamosblog.com/

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