Will Obamacare Mean the 40 Hour Work Week Is History for Many?

Everyone is used to having a 40-hour work week. For as long as we can remember, this seems to be the standard number of hours that employers would ask from their employees. However, it is possible that the 40 hour work week could be history for many.

New policies and legislations often have a tremendous impact on any nation and the effect ripples through the entire population. The farther it gets, the stronger the waves seem to be. Taking this as a comparison, it is usually the common people who are most affected by any changes in existing laws. So when Obamacare was introduced, this served as a catalyst of change to the number of hours expected in a work week.

The Change

The Patient Protection and Affordable Act, what Obamacare is formally called, was set to take full effect at the beginning of this year. The act required employers to give health insurance to employees working at 30 hours or more per week.

For companies, this change is very drastic and could result in expenses shooting up. Since companies would usually find ways to reduce expenses, it seems that the only logical way out of this plight would be for companies to offer part time positions at a maximum of 29 hours per week. This number is just a little under the 30 hour per week requirement.

The Bad

When the 40 hour work week is reduced to almost half of its original number of hours, it can be expected that this would have an equally great impact on both employers and employees. However, the effect would be felt more strongly by employees in this case.

Companies usually shift or pass off any unsatisfactory changes to its employees. So instead of doing good as it was intended to do, the Obamacare Act has propelled companies to lay off full-time employees and offer part time positions to them instead. At the end of the day, it is the employees who suffer the most from any changes made as below:

  • With the 29 hour work-week, employees would be earning much less than they are currently making. Salary and wages would be reduced to almost half of what the company is spending and maybe even more so because there are less benefits received by part time employees compared to full time.
  • No healthcare and other benefits for part time employees. Part time employees do not enjoy the same protection that regular employees do. So not only is the salary reduced, all other benefits that full time staff enjoy would no longer be provided.
  • The underemployment rate would shoot up. Many qualified people would have to settle for part time jobs because they really do not have a lot of choice.

The Good

Although it may seem like such a gloomy prospect for all employees, there is usually something good that we can get from a difficult situation. In fact, the whole problem could bring in new opportunities that we may never have imagined were possible.

  • The unemployment rate would decrease. While it may be true that underemployment would increase, this would offer more work opportunities.
  • Better wages for part time jobs. Since part time jobs would already include specialized jobs that require certain skill sets, better rates for the part time jobs could be offered.
  • Be able to start a new venture. Since we would have time on our hands now, we can choose to venture into something else that could potentially earn more. We could go into business or get another part time job which, in the end, could result in greater yields.

The good and bad sides of the new policy are now being subjected to excessive debate, with the bad side trumping the good side by a huge margin. Whether or not the apprehensions are unfounded remains to be seen, however, is the risk worth the effort? This question will be answered soon enough with the already beaten and vulnerable population of this nation waiting with baited breath and anticipation in their heart.