Restaurant Chain Cuts Hours To Avoid ObamaCare Costs

A major restaurant group is experimenting with cutting its employees hours in the hopes of cutting the costs of healthcare.
Darden Restaurants, which owns the Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Yard House chains has stopped offering full-time schedules to hourly workers, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The company plans to offer a maximum of 28 hours per week per employee.

The test is being conducted in what the company calls “a select number” of restaurants in four markets but would not give details.
Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare
The Orlando-based group told the Sentinel the changes were “just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications healthcare reform will have on our business,” adding, “There are still many unanswered questions regarding the healthcare regulations and we simply don’t have enough information to make any decisions at this time.”
Under a section of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act due to go into effect in 2014, large employers face fines of up to $3,000 per employee if they fail to provide insurance for employees who work an average of 30 or more hours per week.
Darden said it offers health insurance to its 185,000 employees nationwide but many are on a limited-benefit plan which will be phased out under Obamacare.
The Orlando Business Journal reported that Darden plans to open 500 new restaurants in the next five years, adding an estimated 50,000 new jobs.
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Editor’s Note:

“Part-time employees are counted as full-time equivalent employees for purposes of determining whether an employer is a large employer subject to these penalties. However, part-time employees are not counted for purposes of calculating the actual penalty amount. An employer will not pay a penalty for any part-time employee, even if that employee receives subsidized coverage through an Exchange.”