House Passes 40-Hour Workweek Threshold for ACA
January 13, 2015
The House of Representatives passed a bill on Jan. 8, 2015, that would define a full-time worker under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as one who works 40 hours a week, rather than the law’s current definition of a full-time employee working only 30 hours a week.
However, President Barack Obama opposes the legislation. Peter Marathas Jr., an attorney with Proskauer in Boston, said he expects the bill to pass the Senate as well and said it will be interesting to see if there are enough votes in the Senate to override a possible veto. If there are, he said this would be a “huge” change to the ACA.
Steven Friedman, an attorney with Littler in New York City, said, “It took a lot of people by surprise that a 30-hour workweek would be the standard for who was a full-time employee.”
Writing in support of the legislation, SHRM President and CEO Henry G. “Hank” Jackson said, “Employers are experiencing challenges and unintended consequences as a result of the new ACA requirements. Specifically, defining ‘full-time’ as an employee working 30 hours a week is inconsistent with standard employment practices and benefits coverage requirements in the U.S. and conflicts with other federal laws. As a result, some employers have opted to eliminate health care coverage for part-time employees, while others have restructured their staffing models to reduce employee work hours below the 30-hour threshold that triggers the coverage requirements.”
President Obama Administration Opposes the Change
The Obama administration, however, issued a statement opposing this legislation.
The administration contended it would cause the problem it claims to solve by greatly increasing the number of workers that may have hours reduced as employers attempt to avoid the requirement.
Senate to Take Up Bill
The Senate is expected to take up the bill in the near future. Time will tell as to what direction Congress moves, and whether it has enough votes to override a veto.