Health changes spur test of more part-time workers
The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants is putting more workers on part-time status in a test aimed at limiting costs from President Barack Obama's health care law, The Associated Press reports. Darden Restaurants Inc. declined to give details but said the test is only in restaurants in four markets across the country.
It entails boosting the number of workers on part-time status, meaning they work less than 30 hours a week. Under the new health care law, companies with 50 or more workers could be hit with fines if they do not provide basic coverage for full-time workers and their dependents.
Starting Jan. 1, 2014, those penalties and requirements could significantly boost labor costs for some companies, particularly in low-wage industries such as retail and hospitality, where most jobs don't come with health benefits. Darden, which operates more than 2,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, employs about 180,000 people. The company says about 75 percent of its employees are currently part-timers.
Nationally, 60 percent of companies offer health benefits, but the figure varies depending on the size of the company. Nearly all companies with 200 or more workers offer benefits, compared with 48 percent for companies with 3-9 workers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.