A weird side effect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is the
stigma it’s put on part time work and part time workers. These days, hiring someone part time can cause others to raise their eyebrows with knowing looks: “Ah, you’re trying to avoid having to pay for insurance…I get it.”
It is true, as the Wall Street Journal reported in July, that the number of people hired as part timers tripled in 2013 compared to those hired in 2012. And many experts believe it’s because employers are hoping to avoid having to offer insurance to workers. Employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent workers have to offer affordable insurance to employees who work 30 hours or more per week. For the purposes of the act, two part time employees equals one full time employee. So some employers are making sure few employees are getting in 30 hours a week.
But that’s not the only reason for hiring part time workers. The workplace is changing, with companies pulling services from “the cloud” instead of having their own systems for everything from communication to accounting. Workers tend to spend a lot fewer years at one job. There’s a lot more outsourcing. With technology, more jobs can be done in less time.
And then there are the reasons that have been around for generations, since part time work has long been a staple of the American economy. Businesses that have very clear high seasons and low seasons, or rush periods, require part time workers. Restaurants, retail organizations, events companies and accounting firms are obvious, along with manufacturers whose products tend to have seasonal appeal. But there are also part time attorneys, anesthesiologists, management consultants, adjunct professors.
Then there’s the vantage point of the part timers, many of whom have really good reasons for only wanting to work part time. There are students, mothers who want to be home when their kids get home from school, people who care for elderly parents and a lot of retirees who want to be working, just not full time. The abundance of part time work out there allows for flexibility for people who need and want flexibility.
There are going to be some businesses whose focus is on avoiding paying for insurance, like the business owner I talked to who said she would never hire more than 49 employees, no matter how much she might need more people to grow. But the companies who are focused on providing a great product or service and building a great company will do so strategically, not hiding from the potential costs of running that business.
If you want help understanding how the Affordable Care Act impacts your business, call us.
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.