The breadsticks and shrimp may be endless, but the health benefits are not. Darden Restaurants Inc., owners of Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants is responding to the upcoming health reform law by placing more employees in part-time positions.
“This is only a test…” At least that is what officials at Darden Inc. are saying. So far, the test is in just four U.S. markets. Why are they testing these waters? Most likely to see how smoothly business runs with a beefed up part-time crew and less full-timers.
As of 2014, companies with over 50 full-time employees will be required by law to provide basic health insurance coverage to their workers and their dependents or face a penalty. However, businesses with less than 50 full-time workers are exempt from having to offer coverage.
Darden operates more than 2,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada and has about 180,000 employees. It is not surprising that their officials are looking for ways to keep costs down after the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect. It will also not be surprising to see many other large businesses follow suit.
This is the second time in the last couple weeks that Darden’s health insurance policies have made national headlines. The company announced that they are moving to a “defined contribution” model of health insurance in late September.
A defined contribution plan involves employers giving their workers a fixed sum of money and letting them purchase their own health insurance from an online marketplace. Darden employees begin picking their own coverage November 1, 2012 for policies that will begin on January 1st, 2013.
Over 12.9. million Americans work in the restaurant industry, making it one of the largest private-sector employers in the country. One of GoHealth’s recent blog posts delves deeper into what the Affordable Care Act means for this huge section of the population.