Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D–IN) along with Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced the reintroduction of the bipartisan Forty Hours is Full Time Act, S. 30, which would change the definition of a “full-time employee” under the Affordable Care Act to someone who works an average of 40 hours per week.
The senators have heard first-hand that some employers are making decisions to cut employees’ hours due to how the health care law defines a “full-time employee” – as someone who works an average of 30 hours per week. Employers are making the law’s 30-hour standard a part of their business planning, and as a result more than 450 employers nationwide, including 100 school districts, have already chosen to cut their workers’ hours to 29 hours a week or fewer. Collins and Donnelly first introduced this bipartisan solution in 2013 with the aim of making the health care law work better for families, employers, and employees. The bipartisan legislation, which the senators announced Wednesday, would help employees impacted by the current definition of full-time worker and allow employers to better plan for the future by using the more commonly accepted definition of “full time”: someone who works 40 hours.
Collins said, “Our legislation is very straightforward and would remedy a serious flaw in the Affordable Care Act that is causing workers to have their hours reduced and their pay cut. The law creates a perverse incentive for businesses to cut their employees’ hours so they are no longer considered “full time.” Our concerns are not hypothetical, more than 450 employers have already cut work hours or staffing levels in response to the law as of September 2013. Employees of for-profit businesses are not the only ones who are threatened by this illogical definition of full-time work. In Maine, I have heard from organizations like home care agencies, hospitals, and school departments. Our goal is simple. We want to protect part-time workers from having their hours reduced and their paychecks cut because of the definition in this law.”
Donnelly said, “I supported the Affordable Care Act because I wanted to help working- and middle-class families to have access to health care. That doesn’t mean that the law is perfect, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t still have work to do. That’s why I’m working with my colleagues to make this bill stronger. In Indiana, common wisdom is that full-time is a 40-hour work week, and the health care law should reflect that. From grocery store employees to school cafeteria managers to adjunct professors at colleges, part-time workers across many industries have seen their hours cut to comply with the health care law. This is impacting their pocketbooks and ability to make ends meet or save for the future. I am hopeful the Senate will soon consider this commonsense legislation.”
Murkowski said, “The Forty Hours is Full Time Act is a necessary step for our small business community and the Americans they want to hire, but end up feeling pinched by this lost wage incentive. The fact that this is a bipartisan effort demonstrates that this is not a right or left issue, but a right or wrong one. This bill costs payroll for our service industry, and is leading to higher costs passed onto customers.”
Manchin said, “In the almost 5 years since the Affordable Care Act became law, we have all seen the need for reforms to this legislation,” Senator Manchin said. “While we’ve worked through a few of these issues in Congress, our job is far from over. One of the most straightforward fixes is to change the definition of fulltime employment under the law from 30 to 40 hours per week. This is simply common sense. Businesses across the country use this employment standard, and there is no reason why the health care law cannot comply, as well. Effective health care reform should expand access to coverage without curbing economic growth or harming vulnerable workers, which is why is it imperative to make this easy fix to the Affordable Care Act.”
The Forty Hours is Full Time Act reintroduced this week is the same legislation that Collins and Donnelly first introduced in June 2013. The House is expected to vote on its own version of this legislation in the coming days.