Initially, operators did not hold back on voicing their concerns for how the ACA would cripple the industry and, subsequently, the economy. But their large-scale protests failed to address the smaller—yet potent—consequences of the legislation. Here are some of the more surprising cons restaurateurs have been reporting to Angelo Amador, the NRA’s senior VP of labor and workforce policy and regulatory counsel.
1. An all-or-nothing catch
Operators with fewer than 50 full-time-equivalent employees are getting burned for trying to do right by their staff, says Amador. Some were refunding employees’ heath care costs without offering formal coverage, and the IRS balked. If restaurants offer any subsidized health care, the IRS demands they meet all of the ACA requirements. “That is a new one that is affecting a group that, up until now, thought they weren’t impacted,” he says.
2. The disappearing middle manager
As labor costs increase, with additional funds potentially going toward overtime pay and minimum wage hikes, the middle manager’s role is becoming less affordable, Amador says. “Either someone is a full-time manager working more than 40 hours on a salary or [they are] an hourly employee working less than 30 hours,” he says. “That’s going to create a problem with moving up the industry ladder.”
3. More scheduling rigidity
Scheduling is getting more restricted, because employers are tracking their staffers’ hours closely. Before, employees could pick up and trade shifts. That is giving way to more structured scheduling, as operators try to stay in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. If an employee wants to pick up hours, it’s going to become more difficult, says Amador.