Late last spring, Hoosiers began to witness a strange phenomenon: One after another, local school corporations across the state announced they would limit the hours of hourly workers—their substitute teachers, teaching assistants, cafeteria workers, and so on—because of the provision in Obamacare’s employer mandate that defined full-time employment at 30 hours. Though the provision wasn’t supposed to take effect until January 1, 2014, budgets for the school year had to be adopted by early summer.
As we moved into the summer and local governments faced similar budget deadlines, they made similar announcements about the hours of their parks department crews, custodians, and others. Then came the announcements from college and universities about reduced hours for adjunct professors and student workers.
At the same time, employees of small businesses in the retail and restaurant sectors began reaching out to our office. They were facing reduced hours for the same reason in their jobs as waitresses, cashiers, and in the stockroom, to cite a few examples.
This committee heard similar testimony last week about the impact the “30-hours-is-full-time” provision is having all across the country. According to a report from UC Berkeley last year, as many as 2.3 million hourly employees nationwide may be at risk of losing hours. The Hoover Institute told this committee last week they reassessed that number using the same algorithm, and it now stands at 2.6 million at-risk workers.
These workers aren’t worried about losing hours because they need something to do to pass the time. These are Americans who depend on those hours to support their families. It isn’t just their hours, but also their wages, that are disappearing. An employee seeing their hours cut from 39 hours to 29 hours will lose an entire week’s paycheck over the course of a month. An employee going from 35 hours to 29 hours is essentially receiving a 17% pay cut, courtesy of Obamacare.
In delaying the employer mandate via blog post last July, President Obama only delayed some of the pain that it was creating. But the new class of employees dubbed the “Obamacare 29ers” continues to grow. The closer we get to January 1, 2015, the more I suspect we’ll continue to see the ranks of 29ers grow.
That’s why I drafted H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act. We need more than a delay of these harmful, unintended consequences; we need a real solution for those hardworking Americans who just want to provide for their families.
Simply put, this bill offers that solution by repealing the Affordable Care Act’s 30-hour definition of full-time employment and replacing it with the traditional 40-hour work week. This would restore the hours—and more importantly, protect the wages—of Americans who need them most.