Murkowski Co-Sponsors Bipartisan Fight Against Health Care Bill’s “Lost Wage Incentive”

Senator: 30 Hour Workweek Harming Alaska’s Small Businesses, Workers

Senator Lisa Murkowski has joined Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to re-introduce the bipartisan Forty Hours is Full Time Act, which matches full-time employee status within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the conventional 40 hour workweek. Employees who work thirty hours or more a week are considered “full-time employees” for purposes of the ACA, which has caused some employers to cut workers’ hours or hire employees at 29 hours per week or less due to cost. This threatens workers’ take-home pay, especially in industries that are crucial to Alaska such as restaurants, hotels and retail.

“The Forty Hours is Full Time Act is a necessary step for our small business community and the Alaskans they want to hire, but end up feeling pinched by this lost wage incentive,” said Murkowski. “The fact that this is a bipartisan effort demonstrates that this is not a right or left issue, but a right or wrong one. The health care reform bill is costing payroll for our service industry, and is leading to higher costs being passed onto customers.”

The ACA’s current “full-time” designation of 30 hours results in an estimated 2.3 million workers’ hours being cut, resulting in further damage to an already struggling economy. According to estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office, designating full-time as 40 hours per week would save small business approximately $38.6 billion in penalties over 10 years.

Senator Murkowski co-sponsored a similar effort in the previous Congressional session.

BACKGROUND: Under the ACA, businesses with more than 100 full-time employees must provide health care benefits or face penalties beginning at $40,000, plus $2,000 for each additional “full time equivalent” employee working 30 hours.  The employer mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees came into effect on January 1st, with January 1st, 2016 looming as the date when employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide insurance.  (The Affordable Care Act has been adjusted or has had provisions postponed 46 times to date.) The 40-hour work week was established by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).  The FLSA sets wage and other recordkeeping requirements for employers, including the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, and has long been the standard for determining full-time versus part-time employment status.