Companies shift workers to part-time as health care reform looms

Published: May. 3, 2013 at 12:44 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2013 at 12:55 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As changes are set to take place health care, what was intended to be health insurance for all has seen a new trend forming. Full-time workers are being cut to part-time.

This isn't just small companies. We're talking big, national brands.

Last year, Red Lobster and Olive Garden's parent company tested a shift to part time workers, and now more and more companies are doing it, and blaming it on the health care reform. This week a WTOC viewer e-mailed us to say their employer, Circle K Southeast, broke the news to employees they would no longer be full time because of national healthcare.

WTOC went to the Circle K on Ogeechee Road where they confirmed the news, blaming President Obama and "Obamacare" as they put it, but said I would need to speak to the district manager. She hasn't returned our calls.

Tax manager John Swanner with Hancock Askew and Co. says Circle K Southeast is just the latest in a growing line of national companies starting to make the switch to part time to avoid paying mandatory health care benefits versus facing a $2,000 penalty per full time employee who is not covered.

According to Swanner, expect more to try the same tactic.

"If they get away with it, yeah, but I am sure the government will try to pass a law to counteract that," Swanner told WTOC. "Smaller business won't be affected unless the government tries to lower the limit to less than 50 employees. If they do, you will see other businesses do the same thing."

The move is angering some employees, like the one who emailed us who wrote the companies are just being greedy "taking a law designed to help everyone and perverting it."

You can find out more about the new health care reform and what it means for you at the official website,

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