Rep. Lipinski Protects the Paychecks of Part-Time Workers by Voting to Change ACA Definition of a Full-Time Workweek from 30 to 40 Hours (January 8, 2015)

Today the House passed the Save American Workers Act of 2015, which Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) introduced along with Rep. Todd Young (IN-9).  The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, adjusts the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) definition of full-time employment from 30 hours to the traditional 40-hour workweek, protecting part-time workers from losing wages and work schedule flexibility as employers adjust to the mandates laid out in the ACA.

“I voted against the ACA in 2010, but, ever since it passed, I have been calling on Congress to put the people of this country ahead of partisan politics, put aside hopeless repeal efforts, and work together to fix this well-intentioned, but flawed law,” Rep. Lipinski said.  “Most Americans will tell you that a full-time workweek is 40 hours, not 30 as defined in the ACA.  An unintended consequence of the ACA in its current form is a potential reduction in take-home-pay for millions of hard-working Americans.  Many families would suddenly be forced to live with less or find another part time job to try to make up the difference.  Changing the law to keep middle class families from having to make this painful choice is just common sense, and hopefully the first of many steps towards making the ACA work better for all Americans.” 

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 their hours reduced.

Representatives of the retail, restaurant, and education sectors, as well as local and state government workers 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. 

“This Save American Workers Act of 2015 will encourage a business environment where employers in the restaurant and hospitality can focus on creating more jobs, expanding their businesses, and contributing to a robust economy,” said Illinois Restaurant Association President and CEO Sam Toia in a letter to Congressman Lipinski this week.  “The implications of this issue cannot be overstated.  The restaurant and hospitality industry is the largest private sector employer in the state of Illinois, employing over 517,000 people.  Nationally, restaurants employ over 13.5 million people, and our industry is a major driver of the economic recovery.  If Congress does not act to address this issue, jobs will be lost and businesses will suffer.  The Save American Workers Act of 2015 is commonsense legislation that will protect jobs and strengthen the American economy.”

In addition to lost wages, many workers could lose the scheduling flexibility currently available through part-time jobs.  In some hourly positions, workers are 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.

“If left unchanged, the ACA 30-hour per week ‘full-time employee’ definition would be crippling to my family restaurant business, which has served customers in the La Grange, Illinois, area for over three decades,” said Steve Palmer, owner of Palmer Place Restaurant & Biergarten.  “Many of my employees work part-time and enjoy the flexible schedules that restaurants can offer.  Students can balance work with a busy course load.  Single parents can take shifts that accommodate their childcare.  Very few other industries can boast of such flexibility.  Fortunately, Rep. Lipinski and his forward-thinking colleagues listened to my concerns and the concerns of many small business owners across the nation and took immediate action to bring back the traditional work week.  I met personally with Rep. Lipinski to share our plight.  He took up our cause and championed legislation to help small business owners, their employees, and the overall economy.”

“We applaud the work of Rep. Lipinski for his efforts in the House of Representatives, particularly through his sponsorship of bills that restore the ACA’s 30-hour definition of a full-time employee to the more traditional 40-hour work week,” said International Franchise Association President & CEO Steve Caldeira after announcing Lipinski as one the IFA’s Legislators of the Year last year. “His efforts on ACA reform highlight a commitment to providing workers more hours and employers more growth opportunities.”


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