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Dunkin Donuts and the Affordable Care Act

Dunkin Donuts You can add Dunkin Donuts to the list of businesses that have expressed opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Their complaint is somewhat different than the others. Dunkin Donuts wants to change the rule about how many hours it takes to officially designate a worker as full-time.

There has been more than one restaurant chain that has voiced disapproval about certain portions of the Affordable Care Act. Darden, parent company of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and more might be the most well known one.

In that situation, Darden declared it was implementing a pilot program that would cut the hours of workers specifically for the purpose of being able to avoid offering them an employer sponsored health plan. After much public outcry, Darden decided to end that program. It is clear that there are plenty of Americans who find that restaurants that don’t want their workers to have access to health care are in bad taste.

Dunkin Donuts (and Baskin Robbins) can now be added to the list of restaurants that are quibbling over compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the CEO of Dunkin Brands, Nigel Travis, is objecting to a regulation that would require businesses that have more than 50 full-time workers to provide affordable health insurance for all of their full-time workers.

The interesting thing, this time, is the reasoning behind the complaint. It has to do with the definition of “full-time worker”. The United States government has set the threshold for full-time work at 40 hours a week. However, the Affordable Care Act defines a full-time worker as one who has 30 (or more) hours a week. In short, CEO Nigel Travis would prefer that the ACA defined “full-time” as 40 hours a week, instead of 30.

According to the Boston Business Journal, Dunkin Brands said in a statement that it:

…recognizes the Affordable Care Act as law, and our franchisees are committed to implementing the law and offering affordable health care for their employees. We believe that the definition of a full-time employee, and the number of hours a full-time employee works each week, should be consistent with existing Federal and State laws, and we have communicated this to the Administration. We do not advocate any change to this definition for the purpose of reducing the number of employees eligible for insurance.

Companies that have more than 50 full-time workers, and who choose not to provide them with an affordable health plan, can end up paying fines. Dunkin’ Donuts has around 6,400 stores in the United States. The company has added 291 net new locations in 2012.

Image by Rene Schwietzke on Flickr