BUSINESS
03/21/2013 11:57 am ET | Updated Mar 21, 2013

Obamacare Not Actually Causing Companies To Cut Worker Hours: Survey

All those companies threatening to cut workers’ hours as a result of Obamacare are actually an exception to the rule, according to a recent survey from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve.

Nearly 90 percent of employers don’t plan to shift full-time workers to part-time status as a result of President Obama’s health care reform law, the study found. Obamacare requires that employers provide health care coverage for employees working full-time or face a penalty.

In the wake of the law, some health care experts worried that companies would shift some of their employees to part-time status -- or 30 hours per week or less -- in order to avoid covering them. Though the survey notes that businesses may change their mind once they realize the full effects of Obamacare, it seems companies cutting (or threatening to cut) workers’ hours are more outliers than the norm.

Still, some well-known employers claimed the law could affect their staffing. Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said in November that "it’s common sense” for business owners to cut workers’ hours to avoid the health care requirement. Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, tested a plan last year to hire more part-time workers in an aim to limit health care costs. The company ultimately abandoned the test, which was met with negative backlash.

But some companies went even further. The owner of several Wendy’s franchises said in January that he planned to cut hundreds of workers' schedules to 28 hours per week in an aim to sidestep the health care coverage requirement. An employee of an Oklahoma Taco Bell said in January that the franchise cut her hours because of Obamacare.

Dunkin’ Donuts is reportedly looking for another way to get around the requirement: Simply by changing it. The company is lobbying to change the definition of full-time to employees working 40 hours per week or more, the Financial Times reported last month.

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