Chicago partner Sarah Bassler Millar was quoted in an Automotive News article, titled “Dealers take Affordable Care Act in stride.” The article discussed how automobile dealerships are trying to balance the cost of health benefits with employee wellness.
Some retailers have tried to position themselves for higher health care expenses under the Affordable Care Act by shifting the head count at some of their locations to fewer full-time workers and more part-timers. Employees who work less than 30 hours a week are exempt from Affordable Care Act-mandated coverage. This strategy has often not paid off, as many valued full-time employees quit rather than being cut back to part time, leaving some places staffed by part-time workers.
Sarah, a partner in the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice Group, warned car dealerships about the potential dangers of this strategy.
"Cutting back to more part-time employees is a strategy a lot of employers have considered," Sarah said. "And as a practical matter, for the purposes of health care cost containment, you do need to monitor how many hours your people are working. If the store needs somebody to work an extra four hours a week, it probably makes more sense to give them to Joe rather than Sally, if those four hours would push Sally over the 30-hour threshold, but not Joe."
"I try to remind clients that there is more to the business than health care costs,” she adds. “If they're going to start changing their staffing plans, they need to think through how that will impact customer interface. And how will it affect the business operations?"
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