“It is terribly unfortunate that the House of Representatives has begun 2015 by passing legislation that would raise the definition of full-time employment from 30 to 40 hours of work per week. Changing the threshold for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) employer mandate is a truly terrible idea.
This is bad legislation by almost any measure. It would dramatically reduce the number of people able to access employer-based health coverage. It would result in lost employment hours for some 6.5 million workers. It would increase the federal deficit. And it would undermine the ACA — the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation, and a godsend to millions who, without this law, struggled mightily without the health coverage and care they needed.
This bill also wastes Congress’ precious time, since President Obama has made clear that he will veto it — as he certainly should.
It is discouraging that the 40-hour threshold the House adopted reflects outdated norms about employment in this country. Members of Congress should know that women and men face child and elder care, and other family caregiving responsibilities, that affect their work patterns and the number of hours they can work per week. Caregiving is appreciably harder for working families because Congress has failed to adopt the family friendly workplace policies the country urgently needs. We need all members of Congress to recognize that all employees need and deserve employer-sponsored health coverage, as well as family friendly policies that provide paid family and medical leave, allow workers to earn sick time, guarantee fair work schedules and fair pay, and more.
We fervently hope that today’s House vote is not a harbinger of things to come from the 114th Congress, which should be focused on strengthening the ACA and making all our workplaces more fair and family friendly.”