All employers will soon be required by law to provide workers with affordable coverage or pay a penalty. Here’s what that means for you.
Anyone paying attention knows that the U.S. economy, and by extension the job market, is not what it used to be. This fact has made life extremely difficult for job seekers looking for gainful employment.
What you might not know is that the Affordable Care Act could be contributing to your tough job search.
The Act is President Obama’s landmark healthcare reform legislation that aims to extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. One way the law will do this is by mandating that employers provide workers with affordable coverage or face a penalty.
What the Affordable Care Act Means for Employers
Under the definitions in the Affordable Care Act legislation, anyone working at least 30 hours a week is considered a full-time employee, and any business employing at least 50 full-timers is required to provide them with health insurance.
A business’s total number of full-time employees is determined by adding up all of the hours that every employee works (even the part-timers) and then dividing it by a full 40-hour work week. So, for example, two 20-hour-a-week part-time workers add up to one full-time worker. That means even a business that employees a lot of part-time workers and only a few full-time workers could be required to provide health insurance, although relatively speaking, not many businesses will be in that situation.
What This Translates to for Job Hunters
So what does this mean for those of you looking for a job?
While the Act isn’t fully implemented yet, some businesses are already considering laying off employees or cutting their hours to get around the mandate. They’re scrambling now because the mandate responsibility for employers in 2014 is based on their 2013 numbers.
For example, The New York Times published a case study in March on how a bakery in California was dealing with the Affordable Care Act. According to the article, the bakery, which makes most of its money catering for coffee shops and hotels, has about 90 uninsured workers. That number, as discussed above, puts them in the employer mandate zone.
When the article was written, the owners were trying to decide if they should offer their workers insurance, pay the hefty penalty or figure out a way to skirt the mandate by cutting hours and outsourcing jobs.
But wait; there is some good news here. Even though cutting hours and laying off employees is never something a job seeker wants to hear, the Affordable Care Act might just pay off for job seekers in the long run. Because when you do finally land that dream job, you can be sure there will be benefits attached.
Michael Cahill is Editor of the Vista Health Solutions blog. He has a degree in Journalism from SUNY New Paltz and previously worked as a reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal and an editor for the Rockland County Times.