Lipinski Votes to Protect the Paychecks of Part-time Workers by Changing ACA Definition of Full-time Work from 30 to 40 Hours a Week (April 3, 2014)

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) voted in favor of H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act.  This bipartisan legislation adjusts the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) definition of full-time employment from 30 hours to the traditional 40-hour work week, protecting part-time workers from losing wages and work schedule flexibility as employers adjust to the ACA.

“Ask most Americans and they will tell you that a full-time workweek is 40 hours, not 30 as defined in the ACA,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “If left unchanged, an unintended consequence of the ACA would be a reduction in take-home-pay for millions of hard-working Americans.  Many families would suddenly be forced to make financial decisions they shouldn’t ever have to make, or find another part time job to try and make up the difference.” 

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent workers must offer health insurance to their employees or face a penalty.  The current law defines full-time status as 30 hours of work per week, significantly below the traditional definition of 40 hours that employers and workers have been accustomed to for decades.  As a result of the ACA, hourly or part-time employees working between 30 and 40 hours per week could see – and some already have seen – their hours reduced as companies face either unaffordable new costs or substantial ACA-related penalties.

The Administration has already acknowledged problems in implementing the employer mandate rules and has instituted multiple delays and substantial administrative changes to the law.  In July 2013, the rules were first delayed for a year for all employers.  In February of this year the rules were delayed again for employers with 50-99 workers and significantly loosened for employers with 100 or more workers. 

Representatives of the retail, restaurant, and education sectors from across the country have testified that the 30 hour definition of full time in the ACA will result in as many as 2.6 million part-time workers having their hours cut resulting in lost wages. 

In addition to lost wages, many workers could lose the scheduling flexibility currently available through many part-time jobs.  In some hourly positions, workers are currently able to swap shifts and change their hours from week to week in order to accommodate family needs or emergencies.  But with a 30-hour definition of full-time work, employers may no longer permit this flexibility, as workers would cycle in and out of full-time status from week to week.

A recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirms that the shift from a 30-hour to a standard 40-hour week in the ACA could lead to some people seeing an increase in their take-home-pay.

Last year, Lipinski introduced the Forty Hours is Full Time Act to change the ACA's definition of full time work.  Earlier this year, he and Rep. Todd Young of Indiana consolidated their efforts, with Lipinski joining Young’s legislation, the Save American Workers Act, as a co-sponsor.

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