Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

July 21, 2013

Definition of 'full time' needs to be revised

Reform also must enable economic growth

(Continued)

Last month, as we began working on bipartisan legislation to develop clearer and easier guidelines for businesses and workers to comply with the health law, we wrote President Obama, urging the administration to work with the business community to provide ample transition flexibility beyond Jan. 1, 2014, free from the threat of penalty. The application of the full-time employee definition, coupled with other employer responsibilities, has left many employers confused and struggling to understand and comply with the complicated new requirements. We were pleased when, earlier this month, the administration announced a one-year delay of the implementation of the employer mandate.

Even with this delay, businesses must be able to plan for the future. This includes budgeting, hiring and training a workforce, negotiating insurance plans, updating administrative and IT systems, and explaining changes in health insurance coverage to their employees.

As the economy shows modest signs of recovery, we should be working with employers to encourage additional job growth. Yet we are hearing from small businesses, public school systems and nonprofit organizations, that they are cutting employee hours and forgoing additional hiring in an effort to ensure that they are in compliance with the law.

To address this problem, we have introduced the “Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2013.” It defines a full-time employee for the purposes of complying with the Affordable Care Act as someone who works an average of 40 hours per week, or 174 hours per month for full-time equivalents.

Employers and employees around the country need a more accurate and sensible definition of what is a full-time employee in the health law. The pocketbooks of American families are depending on it, and that is why we urge members of both parties to support our common-sense fix.

Democrat Joe Donnelly represents Indiana in the U.S. Senate. Susan Collins is a Republican senator from Maine. They wrote this for the Wall Street Journal.

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