Forever 21: Decision To Cut Staffers’ Hours Was Made “Independent Of Affordable Care Act”

Forever 21 is facing a bit of social media blowback after a memo reportedly leaked online, detailing its plans to reduce “a number of full-time non management positions” like stock associates and sales associates to 29.5 hours or fewer starting this week. Some critics are accusing the company of doing so to avoid providing health care coverage to full-time employees under the impending Affordable Care Act mandate.

That part of Obamacare requires employers with at least 50 employees in the company to provide coverage for anyone working 30 hours or more per week.

The memo was posted on Facebook last week and has been gathering steam since then. It indicates that any employees previously working more than 30 hours who will now be at 29.5 or fewer hours will not have medical, dental, vision and other voluntary plan coverage as of Aug. 31, and will not accrue paid time off, reports MarketWatch.

However in responding to multiple responses to this move on Facebook, Forever 21 says the decision had nothing to do with Obamacare, in repeat, basically identical statements:

Thank you [redacted], for expressing your concerns. Forever 21, like all retailers, staffs its stores based on projected store sales, completely independent of the Affordable Care Act. After a recent evaluation, Forever 21 realigned its staffing needs to better reflect sales expectations. This realignment impacted 196 employees, less than 1% of all U.S. store employees. Furthermore, Forever 21 regularly promotes and converts employees in the ordinary course of business. Since the start of our fiscal year, March 1, 2013, Forever 21 has converted 421 part-time store employees to full-time status making them benefits eligible. Forever 21 values all of its employees and made every effort to affect as few employees as possible in this realignment.

It also issued a follow-up comment in response to one unsatisfied Facebooker:

[Redacted], you are certainly entitled to your opinion and we hope this provides further clarity. Forever 21 regularly promotes and converts employees in the ordinary course of business. Since the start of our fiscal year, March 1, 2013, Forever 21 has converted 421 part-time store employees to full-time status making them benefits eligible. Again, Forever 21 values all of its employees and made every effort to affect as few employees as possible in this realignment.

Forever 21 under fire for shifting full-time employees to part time [MarketWatch]