Will health care reform push more employers toward part-time workers? A recent Wall Street Journal story thinks so, citing several restaurants, hotels and retailers that have started to fill full-time positions with part-timers.
Part-timers do have some alluring features — no expense for certain benefits like life or disability insurance, and flexibility on hours. And now, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act offers yet another reason to hire part-time staff — they don’t “count” for determining whether an employer has 50 full-time employees. At 50 employees, employers are required to offer a health plan. At 49, they don’t.
For employers hovering near 50 full-time employees, bumping a few people down to 29 hours per week is the difference between having to offer health benefits or not. Any employer who can cross the line to fewer than 50 will be tempted to use this strategy.
The downside to this approach, though, is that a business will not be able to grow — except by hiring more part-timers. At a certain point, the training and frictional costs will not be worth the headache. Having two part-time employees instead of one full-time one puts more stress on managers, human resource staff, scheduling and performance reviews.
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