Working Class Perspective - During Congressional debates over the Affordable Care Act, Republicans and business leaders warned that it would result in the loss of jobs. In fact, their first attempt at repealing the ACA was called “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” But as it turns out, the ACA may have just the opposite effect: creating more jobs by splitting the work of the already underemployed. As a result, the growth of underemployment could be an unexpected consequence of the ACA.
The most notable example is Wal-Mart, the world’s largest private employer. After being a cheerleader for the law, Wal-Mart announced in December 2012 that it would join other employers in evading both the spirit and letter of the law. In the last year, it had already announced that part-time workers hired within the last 12 months would be subjected to an “Annual Benefits Eligibility Check” each August. Now, Forbes Magazine reports that “Employees hired after Feb. 1, 2012, who fail to average the magic 30-hours per week requiring a company to provide a healthcare benefit, will lose their healthcare benefits on the following January. Part-time workers hired after Jan. 15, 2011, but before Feb. 1, 2012, will be able to hang onto their Wal-Mart health care benefit if they work at least 24 hours a week.” Wal-Mart has insisted that it can’t afford to pay benefits, and it will avoid the ACA’s requirements by scheduling current workers for fewer hours and hiring more part-timers.