According to the bill's supporters, the 30-hour workweek definition will encourage employers to cut hours for employees so that they don't meet the 100-FTE threshold. That will put wages and potentially jobs at risk. Many small business owners see the requirement as an unaffordable mandate.
"During town hall meets we held at the NACE and CARS shows, our members told us they were very concerned about changing their business models to adjust to this new law," says Bob Redding, the ASA's Washington, D.C., representative. "That came up at every event we held, that our members would like to see this corrected."
However, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report that says the legislation would prompt 1 million people to be dropped from employer coverage, pushing between 500,000 to 1 million people onto government insurance and increasing the number of people with no insurance by several hundred thousand. That would increase federal spending by $53.2 billion over the next decade.
At the Senate hearing, Democrats argued that raising the threshold to 40 hours would encourage even more employers to cut hours than under the current law. But very few employees that work 30 hours a week currently have health insurance, compared to those that work 40 or more hours a week, which could potentially provide more incentive for employers to cut hours.
"Businesses in our industry struggled from 2008 to 2012, and we don't need further regulatory restriction to our recovery," Redding said. "This is just an additional burden that our members don’t' need right now."
More Senate hearings are scheduled in the coming weeks to discuss the bill and other aspects of the ACA. While a few Senate Democrats support the 40-hour bill, it's not clear at this point whether Republicans can muster enough votes to override a veto.
"It's going to be very close," Redding says of the Senate vote. "When the Republicans took control of the Senate, we actually lost several Democrats that would have voted for the bill. In the House we had 12 Democrats vote for this, and that sends a strong message."
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