The East Hampton Star reports that, in the face of new Obamacare regulations, companies are reducing the number of hours their employees work to make them part-time, and therefore not subject to the new law’s mandates.
Part-time is the new normal for most of the 100 or so employees at the Waldbaum’s supermarket on Newtown Lane in East Hampton.
Back in April, after rumors had been swirling for weeks, workers went to pick up their schedules only to discover that their hours had been cut, with most of the full-time workers suddenly seeing reductions of 20 hours a week or more. Management apparently made the change without any formal announcement.
In the months since, many workers have been scrambling to find second and third jobs in order to make ends meet.
“It really hurts. You do the best job that you can and it’s not appreciated,” said a woman who has worked in the store’s bakery, where she decorates cakes, for the past seven years. She declined the use of her name for fear of losing her job. “They’re making the big bucks on the top, with million-dollar bonuses, and you’re just a number,” she said.
The phenomenon is hardly unique to Waldbaum’s. All around the country, an increasing number of businesses are relying on part-time workers in place of full-timers, some taking advantage of the high unemployment rate, with workers willing to take any job they can get, and others citing the Affordable Care Act, the comprehensive health reform that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010.
Come January, businesses with 50 or more employees working more than 30 hours a week will be required to provide affordable health insurance or face steep fines. Before the law takes effect, many businesses that rely on low-wage workers are reported to be switching to a part-time workforce as a means of cutting costs.
Timothy O. Jones
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