As it stands now, it seems that the Affordable Care Act isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With that in mind, businesses are now starting to shift their focus on understanding the new laws and taking action to stay compliant. The restaurant industry is no exception.
The law weighs in around 11,000 pages in length. Angelo Amador, senior vice president and regulator counsel for the National Restaurant Association has been working on prioritizing and simplifying the processes needed to adhere to the law.
“The fixes that we needed before the Supreme Court decision are still needed today,” Amador says. “And they would have been needed regardless.”
There will be many changes to be made in the future, but there are two areas that greatly impact the world of hospitality. The biggest change is to the definition of a full-time employee. Under the ACA, employers are to pay benefits to any full-time employee. Congress defined a full-time employee as anyone who works 30 or more hours a week. This was done to derail any business from lowering their employee’s weekly hours to 39 or 38 hours in order to avoid paying benefits.
Opinions on this change range from people who think it won’t affect business all the way to those who think it could crush an industry. In all honesty, if an employer truly values his employees, he would want to make sure they are taken care of. This does make it difficult for smaller "mom and pop" type restaurants who might struggle paying for the benefits for all their full-time employees. They will need to figure out way to cut their budgets in other areas to balance it all out.
At the moment, there are still a few bills working their way through Congress that would adjust the law back to 40 hours to be considered full-time. But employers are bracing themselves just in case.
There is also the extensive reporting requirements of the ACA. In order to make sure that businesses are following the law, they need to provide proof every step of the way. While the standards are strict, they are needed. This increases the workload of the back office tremendously. The IRS requires specific paperwork for each employee which is a breeze for a small restaurant with 10 employees. But bigger chain restaurants are forced to add employees in order to keep up with the work.
Then there is the fact that businesses with over 50 employees are considered large companies under the ACA. Adding employees could push them over the limit and therefore, adding even more work due to the guidelines that are in place for larger businesses. There is a fine line that business owners need to take into consideration when balancing these new responsibilities. Some businesses have even decided to switch to an outside payroll company to help out. Which gives them the confidence in knowing that the job is being done right.

The future of the Affordable Care Act is uncertain in its details but as a whole, it is standing strong. There will be many aspects that will affect all industries differently. The key is to plan ahead, take it one step at a time and research all options available to help the transition be a smooth as possible.

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