Groups lobby for 40-hour work-week legislation

The National Restaurant Association reaffirmed its support in the past two weeks for efforts to set the Affordable Care Act's definition of full-time employment at 40 hours per week.

WASHINGTON: The National Restaurant Association reaffirmed its support in the past two weeks for efforts to set the Affordable Care Act's definition of full-time employment at 40 hours per week.

At present, the law places full-time status at 30 hours per week, averaged over the course of a month. That means employers who average 50 or more “full-time equivalent” employees will be required to offer health benefits to full-timers and their dependents in 2015 or face penalties.

The organization, whose position is that such outcomes are too costly, has pushed Congress to make a law that states 40 hours per week qualifies an employee for full-time benefits.

“This has been a long-term, more grassroots, and educational process than a big, open media thing for us,” said Scott DeFife, EVP of policy and government affairs for the group. He explained that there has been minimal social media effort to create space for a “more deliberate, purposeful, direct messaging” to Congress.

“We've been building support for this issue in a bipartisan manner. We have bipartisan support in the House and the Senate, and [we will] try to talk about this in the context of earnings and wages, not just the Affordable Care Act,” said DeFife. “This is relief – workers want more hours right now.”

He added that the National Restaurant Association believes making a full-time work week 40 hours is a “common sense, logical relief” that should be law so workers can get the maximum number of hours.

The organization has held meetings, activated its grassroots network, and invited members of Congress to restaurants to see exactly how a workday goes in the industry.

“This is very much a change that has to be made at the legislative level. It takes a longer time to communicate the details of this,” said DeFife. “It's not as conducive to social media, but we do have material up on our website.”

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to move forward with a bill that would set the definition of a full-time position at 40 hours per week.

The US Chamber of Commerce has also kept close watch on Capitol Hill when it comes to mandating a 40-hour work week by sending letters to members of Congress on the Ways and Means Committee.

In a statement released by the Chamber last week, it said it is also advocating for the full-time work week to return to 40 hours because it would protect both employers and employees. It added that the law is forcing businesses to restructure their workforces.

“As a result, the law's implementation is leading to a reduction in employees' total take-home wages rather than improving access to affordable and quality coverage,” it said.

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