The U.S. House late Thursday passed H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act, which alters the definition of a full-time employee under the Affordable Care Act.

H.R. 30, introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.), raises the hours used to calculate ACA benefits, from the current 30 hours per week per month, to 40 hours.

Supportive of its passing, the Society for Human Resource Management says employers are experiencing challenges and unintended consequences as a result of the new ACA requirements.  “Specifically defining ‘full-time’ as an employee working 30 hours a week is inconsistent with standard employment practices and benefits coverage requirements in the U.S. and conflicts with other federal laws,” SHRM says.

“We commend the House’s action today and fully support the legislation,” added Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, also lauding the House’s efforts. “We believe this change will boost employment, increase opportunities for people working part-time to add hours, and help the economy, particularly for smaller employers and those employers in retail, hospitality and other service industries.”

Also see: Push for ACA 40-hour work week definition heats up

But even with Republicans having control of both houses, the bill’s chances of becoming law are slim. President Barack Obama is expected to veto the legislation and Democrats have previously expressed disappointment with the Republican effort to alter the ACA’s full-time employment definition.

“The problem with the proposal is that employers can simply schedule their employees to work 39 hours rather than 40 hours to avoid providing health care coverage to employees,” says Robert K. Neiman, a partner with the law firm Much Shelist. “That wouldn’t have the effect of merely amending the ACA — that would be a vivisection of the ACA.”

He says a number of employees have already had hours slashed to below 30 hours, but advises that employers can’t fully function with an entirely part-time staff.

“They need experienced, full-time staff who know what they’re doing,” he says. “I don’t think that the president will compromise on this issue.”

The bill passed the House 252-172. 

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit Adviser content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access