Is Staples Cutting Employee Hours Ahead of Affordable Healthcare Act?

Is it a case of following old rules, or a way to skirt paying part-time employees healthcare? That’s the question for Staples this week as a memo surfaced advising managers not to schedule part-time employees for more than 25 hours a week. Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, which takes effect next year, employees working more than 30 hours a week are considered full-time and eligible for affordable healthcare through their employer.

The memo, first reported on BuzzFeed, was sent to store managers describing the company’s decision to curb hours for part-time employees starting this month. The memo includes a brief script on how to talk to associates that would normally work more than 25 hours per week at Staples.

Managers were also told they may need to hire additional part-time staff to make up for reduced hours.

The Affordable Care Act wasn’t specifically mentioned in the memo, but many Staple employees have pointed out a provision in the law that could be to blame: The law counts employees who work at least 30 hours a week as full-time, and companies with 50 or more employees that don’t provide affordable healthcare to full-time workers will be forced to pay penalties.

Staples isn’t the only company to come under fire for the possibility of reducing employee hours because of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Last August, Forever 21 faced backlash after a memo leaked online detailed plans to reduce hours to 29.5 hours or fewer. The company said the decision was made ‘independent of the Affordable Healthcare Act’.

In October 2012, Darden Restaurants, owner of chains such as Red Lobster and Olive Garden, experimented with cutting works hours to just under the new full-time guideline.

But is the Staples memo just reinforcing an old rule? That’s what Staples officials told BuzzFeed.

“We have reiterated the policy as we work to increase the efficiency of our retail network,” Mark Cautela, a spokesman for Staples, told BuzzFeed.

Still, the memo uses the phrases “new guidelines” and “new part time policy.” Officials did not respond to BuzzFeed’s questions about the discrepancy.

Staples employees are understandably upset at the prospect of losing hours and wages. As often happens in these case, some have started petitions on sites like Change.org against these kinds of moves. One such petition received more than 160,000 signatures asking Staples to not limit hours of part-time employees.

Staples Accused of Cutting Employee Hours Ahead of Obamacare [BuzzFeed]

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  1. StevenB says:

    I’m so glad I left that damned place in July. Staples treats its employees so poorly. Corporate is still trying to get a person to do a multiple person job and not even pay them $11/hour. They were so concerned with payroll that the store would be understaffed to operate normally. So am I surprised they’re pulling something like this? No, i’m not. They’re doing it because of Obamacare.

    • C0Y0TY says:

      Obamacare is an excuse, not a reason. Staples and other companies are using it as something to blame for what they want to do anyway.

      • StevenB says:

        That could be. We’ll never know for sure. Either way, I hope it turns around and bites them in the ass.

    • furiousd says:

      Payroll is a horrendous expense, and my family’s biggest business expense. The type of work we hire employees to do is simple (I started working there at age 8) and unfortunately for the rising minimum wage laws, the only employees we can afford are high school students as their first job. And many that we interview want better than minimum wage when the currently-mandated minimum wage is too much already for this type of work! The ACA requirements are yet another example of a government push where the economic response is demonized. Many companies would go out of business if they didn’t “weasel” around these laws and the easiest response to being forced to provide healthcare is to cut hours. Instead of making rules which help everyone, now things are more difficult for everyone and it’s easier to just go out of business for the little guy than to put up with even more mandates.

      • MarthaGaill says:

        So, because it’s easier for a business owner to rely on slave wages than find ways to meet government minimums, you think it would be okay for them to pay so little? I mean, if these tasks are so simple you don’t think it’s worth paying someone a livable amount of money, maybe the owner should suck it up and do it all himself.

        Also, Staples isn’t a “little guy.” They should know better.

      • PhillyDom says:

        If minimum wage is “too much already,” either your business model sucks or you do.

  2. ShadyTrust says:

    I’m waiting for GameStop to show up on that list. Anyone from district manager upward treated everyone below that worse than the dirt on their shoes. They know if anyone has a problem with their job, there’s a million people lined up willing to take their place.

    • Diviance says:

      Having worked there, even managing a store at one point, I am shocked they weren’t the very first ones on the list.

      Maybe they are seeing if they can create their own special list.

  3. BikerGeek79 says:

    I doubt Obamacare is to blame, since Staples is one of the few companies who offer health insurance to part-time employees.

    Now, as to what StevenB says, he’s right in that they do pinch payroll pennies which IMHO costs them customers. Over the Christmas season I spent a lot of time in Staples having prints made, and I never EVER saw more than 3 employees there. The last time I was there they pulled the Copy Center person over to ring so that the cashier could take a lunch break. There was 1 cashier, 1 manager, and 1 Copy Center person to run a 20,000sq’ store. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way of the world where retail is concerned. Payroll is viewed as the most expensive cost center, and the easiest to cut, so it’s the first to go whenever times are tight or profits are flat. That starts a spiral, because the poor service drives customers away, causing lower profits, and tighter payroll, etc.

    • StevenB says:

      If I had to put a final thought on it, I would say Obamacare is the icing on the cake for their actions. Staples corporate has a total disconnect from reality. You can’t run a store on such few people. Then they wonder why business continues to suffer.

      • BikerGeek79 says:

        If the reasoning behind forcing employees to part-time status is so that the company can avoid the ACA requirement to provide health insurance to them, it makes no sense for Staples, because they provide health insurance to part-time employees already. It seems like purely a profit-grab. Also, they’re not cutting full-time to part-time. They’re cutting part-timers from 29.5 hours down to <25. That doesn't change anybody's status, and thus wouldn't affect their eligibility for Obamacare.

  4. trustnot says:

    When you choose a course of action for profit or mismanagement, it doesn’t matter whom or what you choose to blame. Staples is a business failure, thus their recent promotions, free shipping etc are desperate acts. If necessary to shop there, I have learned it is best to have the front desk telephone programmed into your cell phone. You won’t get help any other way from the invisible and too few employees. I wonder how they can keep theft to a minimum with no one to keep a real eye on the store.