Let’s begin by quoting one of the greats:
“Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise!”
That’s Gomer Pyle, of course, the simpleminded, gentle auto mechanic on the old “Andy Griffith Show” whose words and attitude best sum up how we all reacted this week in response to the jaw-dropping news out of Treasury about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
OK, so now that the news it out, let me suggest what many in Corporate America have been promoting: the way PPACA defines a full-time employee needs to change.
The law, as we all know, created an entirely new definition of full-time workers, those putting in 30 hours or more.
That, of course, is ridiculous, providing yet more ammunition to the law’s many critics who contend it is unworkable on multiple fronts.
When you stop to consider that Tuesday’s announcement could save employers $10 billion in penalties in 2015, it’s easy to see why so many business owners hate this legislation.
In any case, many welcome the delay since it gives them time to sort through all of the IRS and others regulations.
It also gives everyone time to tackle once more just who qualifies as a full-time staffer.
You’ve seen the stories. You might have done this in your own operations.
Employers everywhere have imposed hiring freezes or even downsized and are cutting employee hours in hopes of skirting the PPACA’s coverage requirements.
Timothy Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, in a commentary on the Health Affairs Blog, tried to sound an optimistic note.
"It is to be hoped … that employers who have been claiming that they have to reduce their employee’s hours of work to below 30 to avoid the penalties will restore the lost hours, and small employers fearful of growing over the 50 (full-time equivalent) threshold will focus on growing their businesses rather than worrying about the ACA," Jost said.
I doubt it. Very much.
Thankfully, legislation introduced in the House last month would bring some welcome changes.
Under H.R. 2575, introduced by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., the definition of full-time employees in the law would be changed to those working an average of 40 hours per week.
Repealing the 30-hour definition of a full-time employee “and restoring it to the historical norm ensures this bill not only protects working poor and middle-class employees, it also ensures that laws governing employment are consistent,” Rep. Young said in a statement.
Amen to that.
By the way, on a related note, in late April I wrote that the Department of Labor had apparently begun, if not completed, an economic analysis of the new tax penalties under PPACA but, unfortunately, appeared unwilling to share its findings.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce was hounding Seth D. Harris, the acting secretary of the DOL, for some answers.
I haven’t seen any of those answers yet, have you?
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