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National Restaurant Association - House opens 2015 with key health care vote

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House opens 2015 with key health care vote

An issue that stands to have a profound impact on the scheduling and hiring of restaurant employees — a change to the health care law’s definition of “full time” — is scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives this week.

The Save American Workers Act is identical to a bill that passed the House twice with strong bipartisan support last year. The measure would change the health care law’s definition of full time to 40 hours, from its current 30. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), could be voted on as soon as Thursday. Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a similar bill Tuesday, but the timing of a Senate vote isn’t clear yet, and President Obama would have to sign the bill for it to become law.

Time is of the essence for changing the full-time definition, as businesses are already making changes to meet the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. This year, businesses with 100 or more full-time-equivalent employees—generally defined as those who average at least 30 hours per week—are required to offer health care benefits to those employees and their dependents or face penalties. Next year, the requirement will expand to include businesses with 50 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees.

At a press conference alongside Collins and Donnelly, newly elected NRA Chairman Jack Crawford, president and CEO of the Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative in Freeport, Maine, said the 30-hour definition is forcing many restaurant owners into a difficult position.

“A thirty-hour week doesn’t work for restaurants, our employees, or the hundreds of thousands of businesses that are being forced to make hard decisions to comply with the health care law,” Crawford said. “It’s time for Congress to help restaurants — the nation’s second-largest private sector employer — continue to feed our nation’s economy, grow our businesses and create jobs in communities across the country.”

As a leader of the More Time for Full Time initiative, the NRA and more than 300 other groups sent letters to members of the House and Senate, encouraging them to support a change in the full-time definition.  

NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney and Crawford were on Capitol Hill this week, meeting with members of the House and Senate to build support for the legislation.  

The More Time for Full Time initiative and the NRA also urge restaurant operators to send their own letters to Congress in support of the bill. Check Facebook to say how the full-time definition affects your business.

 

Pictured, top right from left: Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and NRA Chairman Jack Crawford.

Pictured, above from left: Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney.

 

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