Obamacare Causes Major Concerns For Businesses – Healthcare Reform Triggers Three Major Employment Law Concerns for Businesses
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), alternatively referred to as the Healthcare Reform Bill or simply Obamacare, has far-reaching impact on businesses, employees, and therefore, employment lawyers. From newly defined classes for discrimination, to unlawful firing and cut hours, to worries over how to enact change equally, all businesses will need to tread carefully and may find themselves in need of employment law specialists.
The PPACA may lead to an increase in discrimination lawsuits, now that “the poor” have been defined as a specific protected class. Under the healthcare act, certain employees will be more costly to employ than others if they elect to receive government subsidies. Since income determines eligibility for these subsidies, it can become more costly to employers to hire someone if their spouse loses his or her job. Therefore, employers may be hesitant to hire lower income employees. The new law states that reluctance to hire based on income is unlawful discrimination, thereby creating a wholly new class of people who can file discrimination claims against employers.
In addition to an increase in discrimination lawsuits, the healthcare act will trigger more job cuts and cut hours. Employers may try to cut employees’ hours or fire employees outright, to avoid the 50 employee qualification set forth by the PPACA. Papa Johns CEO John Schnatter, for example, spoke at Edison State College about how he “got in trouble” for saying that the health care reform would cause his business costs to increase, resulting in employees’ hours being cut. For employees who rely on set hours to make ends meet, cuts in shifts could force some to need second jobs. If scheduling conflicts arise from that need, there may be an increase in unlawful firing lawsuits. Severance will be a tricky course to navigate for businesses who want to avoid both government penalties and legal issues due to the PPACA.
As businesses try to weed through the financial burdens placed on them by the health care reform act, they will need the help of employment law specialists to guide them. The PPACA mandates that all employment decisions be consistent across the board. Businesses will have to make decisions to protect their bottom line, while making extra sure to enact change with equality for all full-time and part-time employees in mind. Decisions that were once up to the individual company or chain location will now escalate to the franchise level as top executives try to avoid legal action.
The need for businesses to consult with employment lawyers has never been greater. The financial effects of the PPACA are far-reaching for both large and small businesses. Avoiding taxes, fees and fines are only one concern for business owners. Now, businesses need help avoiding lawsuits while abiding by new fairness requirements as well. Once the PPACA is enforced, even more issues may arise. No matter what new issues may pop up, it is certain that employment lawyers will play an increasingly important role in a business’ success or failure.