Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Alexander: Making full time 40 hours could mean more wages for millions

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Ripon Advance Reports, January 27, 2015 - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) made an impression on many last week when he stated that simply restoring full-time work status to 40 hours would mean a pay raise for up to 2.6 million workers nationwide.

“Many businesses can’t afford Obamacare’s mandate and must reduce their number of full-time employees,” Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said. “The result of all this is that thousands of workers are getting a pay cut. Their work schedules are being reduced to 29 hours a week and below. This is not enough money for these workers to earn a living.”

The senator made the comments during a statement to fellow lawmakers on Wednesday. He gave numerous examples of large and small businesses that are reducing hours for workers in order to circumvent the mandate on providing health care coverage for their employees.

“In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State University has started limiting hours for part-time workers,” Alexander explained. “This means students can no longer accept multiple on-campus work assignments. And graduate assistants might have to wait tables instead of picking up extra on-campus grant-funded research projects that would better further their careers.”

Obamacare requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance to those employees or pay a penalty at tax time, from $2,000 to $3,000 per uncovered employee.
“(Knoxville-based) Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest movie theatre chain, announced last year that it was cutting employee hours from 40 to below 30 in order to comply with Obamacare,” Alexander continued.

The law, which was not supported by Republicans, defined full time as an employee who works more than 30 hours a week, instead of the traditional 40 hours.

“Many businesses can’t afford Obamacare’s mandate and must reduce their number of full-time employees,” Alexander explained.

Alexander went on to cover the details of bipartisan legislation being proposed that would repeal this provision. The bill has unanimous support of HELP Committee Republicans, as well as some Democrats.

“Republicans have talked a lot about wanting to repair the damage of Obamacare,” he concluded. “We have also talked about wanting to get results. This bipartisan bill should be an important step to doing both.”

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