WASHINGTON (Jan. 9, 2015) — By a 252-172 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that changes the definition of full-time employment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to 40 hours a week from the current 30.
Under the current provisions of the ACA, 30 hours of work per week is the threshold at which businesses with 100 or more workers must provide health insurance coverage. On Jan. 1, 2016, the 30-hour rule applies to businesses with 50 or more workers.
Advocates of H.R. 30 — the “Save American Workers Act of 2015” — say the change to 40 hours will prevent employers from cutting employees' weekly hours to 29 or less.
“This was an unintended effect of the law, and it's bad for everyone,” said Roy Littlefield, executive vice president of the Tire Industry Association, said in an interview late last year.
The More Time for Full Time Initiative, a coalition of retail associations, praised the Jan. 7 passage of H.R. 30.
“Raising the definition to the more traditional 40-hour workweek lifts the burden placed on employers, and helps them get back to creating jobs in their communities and growing their businesses,” the coalition said in a press release.
Opponents of the bill, however, say the redefinition will merely make it easier for employers to cut employee hours to under 40. They quoted a Congressional Budget Office report estimating that final passage of H.R. 30 would cost 1 million U.S. workers their health insurance coverage and add more than $53 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
H.R. 30 has been introduced in the Senate as S.R. 38 — the Helping Individuals Regain Employment (HIRE) Act — by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. President Barack Obama is expected to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.