Behold Obama’s New 29-Hour Work Week


Obamacare mandates that businesses provide health insurance for all full-time employees, which the law defines as anyone working 30 or more hours per week. The response from businesses has been to start cutting the hours of employees to get under that mandate.

Thus, the new 29-hour work week:

Some low-wage employers are moving toward hiring part-time workers instead of full-time ones to mitigate the health-care overhaul’s requirement that large companies provide health insurance for full-time workers or pay a fee.

Several restaurants, hotels and retailers have started or are preparing to limit schedules of hourly workers to below 30 hours a week. That is the threshold at which large employers in 2014 would have to offer workers a minimum level of insurance or pay a penalty starting at $2,000 for each worker.

The shift is one of the first significant steps by employers to avoid requirements under the health-care law, and whether the trend continues hinges on Tuesday’s election results. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has pledged to overturn the Affordable Care Act, although he would face obstacles doing so.

This is the problem with government solutions to social problems: Regulations are static, but markets are dynamic. In this instance, businesses aren’t reacting to the government’s health insurance mandate in the expected way. Rather than saddling themselves with huge new costs for insurance, they’re simply working around the mandate.

Which isn’t great for workers – especially low-skill and entry-level workers – who are going to have a harder time finding all the work hours they need.

There is far too much faith put in the government’s ability to impose its will on society.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Harold

    If Obama wins business’s would be wise to just close their doors before this man takes everything from them that they have worked for. No use in loosing everything to this man better to cut your loses and get out of whatever business your in.

    • Wayne

      This is already happening.

  • Game

    I always find it interesting how when making anti-government points like this, the right always undervalues the importance of employees on business.

    Is it possible that some shady businesses will only give employee’s 29 hours of work in order to avoid paying them health insurance? Yes. However, as the quality of your employees is directly related to the quality of your product, it will not be a majority of them. Those business who act in that manner will be rewarded with lower quality employees (as high quality employees will go to jobs in which they get health insurance and more hours), and their product will suffer.

    Now I am sure these business will blame the government for their problems, but in reality, it is their poor business practice that will not allowing them to compete for high quality employees.

    • Rob

      Is it possible that some shady businesses will only give employee’s 29 hours of work in order to avoid paying them health insurance? Yes.

      Shady businesses like…Red Lobster?

      However, as the quality of your employees is directly related to the quality of your product, it will not be a majority of them.

      That’s a grain of truth in that. Businesses don’t necessarily want a “race to the bottom.” But another thing directly related to the success of a business is price. If the price of your labor significantly increases so does the price of your product. And let’s face it, waiters and the like are pretty low-skill employees. It’s not ever going to be hard to find a lot of adequate workers.

      And businesses forced to make bad business decisions by stupid government policies should blame the government.

      Maybe employee compensation should be left between the employer and the employee.

    • Rob

      What amazes me is how often you liberals are dismissive of complaints businesses have about policies like this.

      Maybe the businesses aren’t lying. Maybe these sort of policies really are a problem.

      Do you stop to consider that for even a moment before dismissing the complaints?

      • Game

        What amazes me is how often complaints like this are about politics and not business. Remember the stories about how Papa Johns was going to increase their costs, but only if Obama was re-elected? (later it was shown that Papa Johns ownership structure does not even fall under the employer mandate) Now it comes out that at least once of the sources to the story about hours being decreased is a political advisor to Mitt Romney.

        • Proof

          “What amazes me is how often complaints like this are about politics and not business.”

          Maybe it’s because Papa John doesn’t have the power to force you to buy their pizza under penalty of law? You don’t like the way Papa John does business? Don’t buy it. Government doesn’t give you that option.

          Personnel costs are among the highest expenses a company has. If government dictates an increase in wages or benefits, and the business is in a market where they can’t raise their prices, sometimes that means attempting to do the same job with fewer employees.

          Hillary Clinton ran into a little girl in ’08 whose mom was working a minimum wage job and had her hours cut after the minimum wage was raised. You as a consumer are not willing to pay higher prices for the same goods and services. We call that “inflation”. We have had a lot of that under Barack Obama.

          BTW, if one “of the sources to the story about hours being decreased is a political advisor to Mitt Romney” then he is doing a public service by cluing some of these people in to reality, that they are voting against their own economic self interests if they vote to re-elect Barack Hussein Obama, Mm, mm, mm!

          And one of the sources about hours being decreased is a mid level manager of the of the grocery chains where hours are being decreased:

          • Game

            I don’t buy Papa John’s after that story came out. I really miss that garlic sauce too, but I refuse to give money to a company like that.

            Do you really think that there is not a business model that exists that can keep prices low, pay a good wage, and offer health insurance?

            Far too many business see employees like you to,as an expense and not an asset. I have been in the business world for over 20 years, and have been responsible for hiring people most of that time. People are not a cost, but an investment that brings me return. I am personally glad that so many people think like you, because I have stole some amazing people from employers like you.

          • Proof

            Got no Game: “Do you really think that there is not a business model that exists that can keep prices low, pay a good wage, and offer health insurance?” Never said that, but you keep building those straw men!

            “I have stole (sic) some amazing people from employers like you.” For as little as you know, you sure make an awful lot of assumptions (capital ass). Whether or not I or any employer values his employee as an asset, is irrelevant if to the question of government interference in the marketplace. Because I valued my employees, I always sought to pay them as much as I could and give them the best benefits I could afford.

            The operative words for nincompoops like you are “as much as I could” and “the best I could afford”. Now imagine if you will, and still have any active brain cells at all, that an employer is paying his employees a decent wage and some benefits (maybe not a Cadillac plan, but then we can’t all be unions now, can we?), and the government comes along and says however much you are compensating your employees, and that they agreed to accept, it has to be…more.

            If the business owner is able to pass those costs through, then his goods and services cost more for the same goods and services. We call that inflation. Are you with me so far? (Doubtful, but let’s press on anyway! ) An employer who is unable to pass those costs along because of contractual agreements or the competitiveness of the market he’s in, has to maintain a certain amount of profitability just to keep the doors open, so overhead has to be cut. That could be in the form of cutting raises, bonuses, putting off expansion, which could create more jobs, or he can make a reduction in personnel. He might make his products cheaper, but that could result in a loss of sales that perpetuates the death spiral.

            You can talk about the personnel you “have stole (sic)”, because this is the Internet and one can say basically anything. But you sound more like a liberal wage, flunky, drone, rather than any kind of business owner. Or do you wear a paper hat in your “management” position? If so, yes, I would like fries with that!

    • Thresherman

      Interesting that you consider a business that has to choose between a 29 hr week and going out of business as “shady”.
      What I do not get about you pro-govornment guys is how you think that businesses all have their own Scrooge McDuck Money Bins that you can raid for what ever you want and it should not impact the business.

  • Random Passerby

    Here is an interesting thought on this..
    This will impact only non-union businesses. Unions tend to have minimum and maximum work hour requirements in their contracts. Unions also have a broad immunity to ObamaCare thanks to the waivers issued to them.
    It seems to me theat this is also (yet another) form of payback to unions.
    What are the chances this is also a sidestep attempt to make unions competitive by forcing higher labor costs in non-union businesses (thus rendering them non-competitive by comparison)?

  • Proof

    I remember the unintended consequences of government tinkering back in the late ’60s. Retailers like Sears were hiring more and more people at 39 hrs/wk, to keep under regulations regarding benefits for full time employees.

    Fast fwd to 2012 and Obama is lowering that standard to 29. That will help his unemployment numbers, as for every three guys that management cuts ten hours off their work schedule, one more will get hired to the same lousy deal!

    The same thing goes for regulations aimed at “larger” companies. Whatever the number that triggers the next level of government regulations, smaller companies try desperately to stay under those numbers, even overpowering desires to expand their businesses.

    • Snarkie

      Oh man, time off and welfare money! Break out the Popov!

  • Lynn Bergman

    Surprise, surprise… a socialist believes we all work too hard and should work less.

    • Take Part!

      Exactly! I mean, what would Jesus do? Break bread and divide what was his amongst those with less? To treat everyone as equals and tend to even the tired feet of a whore? Maybe he would tell you to sell what you have and give to the poor? Or how its easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven? He did? Where? In the bible?! Apparently Jesus can be an ACTUAL socialist and praise be to him but when the president of the United States says it might be keen to think about the little people he’s suddenly some horrible anti-American. Educate yourself before you start slandering someone who works everyday trying to make your country a great nation for generations to come and not just you. If you don’t like what he’s doing than go to the online site and access points created by him and let him know. While you’re there, submit your legislative plan of action backed by your extensive research and qualifications.

  • 11B40


    How nice is that !!! President Obama is helping America to match its work week with his own.

    • Proof

      Only if you count his time on the links in there!

    • nimrod

      I prefer that Obama spend less time working to reduce the damage he does.

  • VocalYokel

    This is merely an extension of the ‘Broken Window’ concept.

    If a business needs more production than can be done by an individual in the new and improved work week, they will have to hire another part-time employee and lo and behold, the government can say they’ve ‘created’ a job and put someone to work.

  • $8194357

    The Boy who would be King….
    Has four more years of “flexability” to tell Putin about…..
    A nation that turns away from God?
    Israel did…
    400 years in “captivity” under Egypt….

    We are now captives of the Muslim Brotherhood dhimmi fool tool.
    And they say history don’t repeat itself, huh…
    DNC booed God and accepted Islam…
    Ya reep what ya sow in a “collective” sort of way, huh…

  • lproper

    What is Obama thinking, When anyone working over 29 hours a week, getting healthcare from Employers. Well being said companies are cutting everyone that is part time at their employment. What is that gonna do? That means that employees are not gonna have the money to keep the economy going and therefore the economy will crash again. I know my employer will not allow me to work more than 29 hrs where i was use to having 32 or more hours a week, which means i will not be spending my money on buying things.

  • Working Mama w/insurance

    How will this affect US citizens who already have health insurance through a spouse’s employer? I work 30+ hrs and now I will be cut? I have to go get another job and work 5 hours per week there? Is there any credit for those of us who have stayed at our jobs and worked our way to a 30+ hour/week and have had health insurance for a long time? If the government is trying to help then TRY AGAIN! People deserve insurance and quality healthcare but it is not fair for others who have worked hard to take a fall! And I feel bad for the people in personnel who have to see their best people get less hours on the work schedule.

  • Novella Y’Vonne Ware

    this is hurting the so called lil people. I cant believe how much this has ALREADY hurt the people I work with.. thanks for nothing Obama

  • Lady

    I a young single mother of 2 from Texas. I’ve been working at the same job for the last 3 years. My income from the 40 hours per week that I work now are not even enough to take care of most everyday financial responsibilities. Now my employer is cutting everyone down to 29 hours by Aug. this year and in my line of work the contract states that I’m unable to work for any other employer in my current employers field of business. If I can’t get a second job in my field of work and study. How am I to provide for my children, and feel impowered my education if its being restricted.

  • blahhh

    I work for Home Depot parttime and I don’t get Health Care, now we can ONLY work 29 hours a week. I never had my hours cut until 6 months ago 8*(

  • Andy_Ghost

    I was skimming through some of the debate on here, and, without targeting anyone specifically, I wanted to make a few comments.

    First of all, I consider myself pretty liberal, but I think some of the Left has been misguided in their assessment of the current situation surrounding this issue. The thing is, when the “Papa” predicted that his business would implement the “29 hour work week,” he was not making any kind of super anti-democratic statement when he predicted hours would be cut–in fact, quite the opposite–he was thinking like a good capitalist.

    I think it is very difficult to determine which companies truly are forced into this situation, which companies could full well comply to Obama’s implementations but will not (either for political or profit-oriented reasons), and which companies fall somewhere in the middle. No doubt, regardless, many will simply fall in line with the “29 hour work week” at this point merely by example.

    Regardless of who is to blame, the situation is a travesty–it is absolutely unacceptable. For my own part, I think that, as much as it is of political convenience for me to blame the employers (and I’m sure many of them are to blame), I think the mandates were flawed, if for no other reason than that they left these loopholes open. At the same time, I think those arguing that businesses are forced into this need to consider why the economy in America is as desperate as it is right now in the first–it certainly didn’t get this way in the short time Obama has been in office; to the contrary, Obama’s work has been from the start an attempt to correct long accumulating problems.

    In my own personal opinion, though it may come across to many on both sides as inconceivable, I believe those working full time should be guaranteed some form of government provided health care. Pragmatically, it would no doubt take a great deal of organization, but I think it could be done. Yes, that is an implementation of socialism, but it is a good one–it also does not burden and/or provide excuses for individual employers, ultimately helping the economy more than it would hurt it.

    So long as we try to approach these specific problems within the framework or capitalism, we will fail, because in this regard capitalism has failed.


  • Sara

    Yep it’s true my son was working 37 hours a week now he has been cut to 29 hours and they hired more part time works. Bob Evans Al’s has cut their employees back to under 29 hours in Dover, Delaware and Camden too. It is a lie when we are told it isn’t true. What is the sense in having health care if these workers can’t eat