Survey: ObamaCare cuts worker hours

A report from the Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association has found that the employer mandate provision of ObamaCare is already causing businesses to reduce their workers' hours, more than a year before the measure goes into place.

Nearly a third of franchise businesses have cut workers’ hours because of the requirement that companies with 50 or more full-time workers offer health insurance or pay a fine, the business lobbies' research found. Additionally, 12 percent of nonfranchise businesses said they have reduced their workers’ hours because of the law.

“This research clearly confirms what the anecdotal stories have already conveyed,” Steve Caldeira, president and chief executive of the franchise association, said in a statement. “This research should serve as a major red flag to Congress and the administration that unless there is a statutory change to the definition of a full-time employee in the [Affordable Care Act], there will be fewer full-time jobs, more part-time workers and fewer overall hours available for Americans to work as business owners adjust their workforce to comply with the law.”

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Business organizations have been vocal about their opposition to the employer mandate, which they say puts too great a burden on companies. When businesses aren’t able to afford healthcare coverage for their staff, they say, they will be forced to cut their workers’ hours so they don’t qualify as full time.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration delayed the mandate, citing some confusion about how businesses needed to report information to the Internal Revenue Service. The requirement was originally set to go into effect in January, but has now been pushed back to 2015.

The business groups say their research shows that the delay has not prevented companies from cutting their workers’ hours.

More than half of businesses with 40 to 70 workers that responded to the survey said they planned to make personnel changes to stay below the mandate’s threshold of 50 workers.

“Instead of providing affordable health care coverage to employees, the law will effectively take hours and wages away from Americans who need and want full-time jobs,” Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, added in a statement. “That’s bad for businesses and their employees.”

The survey focused on 400 small businesses with 40 to 500 workers.