Employees at various Wendy’s restaurant locations in Nebraska will work fewer hours this year, reportedly due to costs associated with Obamacare.
Under the new healthcare law, businesses with 50 or more “full-time” employees must offer health benefits to their staffers working between 32 and 38 hours. Non-managerial workers at Omaha-area Wendy’s will see their hours cut to 28 hours a week, according to local NBC affiliate WOWT.
Gary Burdette, vice president of operations for the Wendy’s franchise, acknowledged the cuts are an attempt by the franchise owner to reduce the number of full-time employees at his Wendy’s locations to avoid offering health care benefits to his staff, according to WOWT.
Wendy’s spokesman Denny Lynch stressed in a Huffington Post interview that the decision of franchise owner Scott King was his alone and not “a company decision.”
“Our franchisees are independent businesspeople, and they make the decisions regarding their restaurant teams. As small-business employers, our franchisees are facing rising food and operating costs and many new government regulations,” Lynch said.
The number of employees in Omaha who will be affected by the decision is in question. The Huffington Post reported approximately 300 staffers, while WOWT reported 100 workers.
There are 11 Wendy’s locations in the metro area.
Wendy’s employee T.J. Growbeck told WOWT he was just getting by with his previous salary before the reductions.
“It has a huge effect on me and pretty much everybody that I work with,” Growbeck said. “I’m hoping that I can get some sort of promotion because then I would get my hours, but everybody is shooting for that because of the hours being cut.”
King isn’t the first restaurant-related business to make public a decision to reduce workers’ hours in an attempt to avoid costs associated with Obamacare.
In 2012, following the re-election of President Barack Obama, Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter and Darden Restaurants — the parent company of chains including Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse — announced the restaurants would similarly be transitioning their full-time employees to part-time status to avoid Obamacare-associated costs.
In December, both Papa John’s and Darden Restaurants backed off their decisions to alter their employees’ hours.