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Part-timers' hours cut as employers react to healthcare law [Live chat]

May 02, 2013
  • "I understand there are costs to healthcare reform, but it is surely not the intent of the law for employees to lose hours," says Tara Sievers, who works part-time as an outreach coordinator at the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach.
"I understand there are costs to healthcare reform, but it is surely… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Hundreds of thousands of part-timers are facing smaller paychecks as employers cut worker hours to avoid paying for their benefits under the federal healthcare law.

This move by a growing number of retailers, restaurants and even local governments and universities has sparked fresh debate over the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and how much employers should be expected to do for workers, given the rising cost of healthcare.

Join us for a live video chat at 3 p.m. with reporter Chad Terhune if you have questions or comments.

Starting in January, the federal law requires large employers to offer health insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours a week on average or pay a penalty. In response, some companies and public agencies have capped part-timers' schedules to keep workers under that threshold.

Join us for a live chat at 3 p.m.

Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, will join the video chat to discuss his estimates for how many workers will be affected by these changes and what benefits the healthcare law offers lower-income employees who can't find coverage at work.

Overall, economists predict that the Affordable Care Act will lead to a slight drop in the number of people getting their health insurance through work, both nationally and in California.

About 700,000 fewer Californians will receive their health coverage from an employer by 2019, dropping the overall number to 19.1 million people, according to estimates from UC Berkeley.

“We project a small decline in job-based coverage and it is mainly firms with lower-wage workers who would be dropping or restricting coverage,” Jacobs said. "We will see some firms shaving hours."

A recent poll of businesses by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis indicated that 11% of employers are shifting to more part-time employees or planning to do so in response to the new healthcare requirements. However, insurance brokers warn that those numbers may rise because many businesses still haven't figured out their response to the new rules.

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