The Affordable Care Act and Your Business

 In Bar & Restaurant Operations, Industry Trends Blog Archives

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the Affordable Care Act. While Obamacare covers a lot of things, the part that concerns many bar and restaurant owners deals with insurance. According to the Affordable Care Act, restaurants with at least 50 employees who work 30 or more hours a week must provide insurance for those employees—or face significant fines.

In fact, most restaurants in a recent survey said that the Affordable Care Act won’t make a difference for them. That’s because restaurants with fewer than 50 employees don’t necessarily have to provide coverage. Since many restaurants have relatively small staffs they don’t have much to worry about. And some restaurants already offered coverage for their employees, even before the new regulations.

But what about those restaurants that do have more than 50 employees? They must provide coverage. That is, unless they keep their number under 50 by laying off some employees. Sean Falk, a franchisee who runs Mrs. Fields and Great American Cookies locations, says that he might avoid hiring to keep his number of employees at 46.

Or, they may cut their employees’ hours to keep them under the 30 hour mark. One Burger King franchisee is doing just that, cutting employees’ schedules by a few hours to keep them under the designated “full time employee” mark.

There’s also the worry that spending money on insurance will lead to a decline in growth. Firehouse Subs is the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the U.S., but the company’s CEO worries that paying so much for insurance may force the chain to slow its expansion efforts. “It is not a matter of if it will slow them down. It is simply a matter of degree,” he says.

What’s definitely good news, though, is that you’ll have some time to think about it. The administration isn’t enforcing the rule until 2015, which will give restaurants that are affected another year to figure it out.

What do you think—will the Affordable Care Act hurt your business, or will it help? Or will it not even affect your business at all? Do you think the Act is a good move, or one that will harm businesses—and the restaurant industry specifically?

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