24 November 2012
We all love to eat out. Unsurprisingly many of us have cut back on this luxury due to that dreaded economy everyone’s talking about. Even if one didn’t vote for him, we all hope that after President Obama’s reelection the country will continue its upward, albeit slow recovery, and that would mean we can all celebrate by going out to dinner, right? Well some of our friends and family isn’t celebrating over food and it’s all because of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act). But don't blame the president just yet.
Recently Darden Restaurants, operator of casual dining restaurants such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, has slashed employee hours to avoid offering them healthcare. Under Obamacare, employers are required to offer healthcare to workers who put in at least 28 hours a week or pay a $2000 fine. The aforementioned chains claim they’ll be testing this concept in four markets, but fail to disclose where; hardly worth celebrating over, at least from our server’s perspective.
And the all-you-can-eat shrimp that is our news doesn’t stop there. Over the weekend, Zane Tankel, CEO of Applebee-Metro, which includes Applebee’s, jumped on the bandwagon by announcing that he not only plans on slashing hours to his employees in a similar fashion, but claims he’ll cease hiring new workers due to Obamacare. And while you’re reading this, trying to decide where to eat and not feel guilty, here’s another dining getaway tarnished by its owner. CEO, John Schnatter, of Papa John’s also plans to cut employee hours to offset the profits he’ll lose due to Obamacare. This is even after his announcement that for the very same reasons, he’ll raise the price of pizza by 14 cents. Now it’s personal.
Surely there will be more businesses and not just eateries we’ll hear follow in the footsteps of these restaurant entrepreneurs. According to a report prepared for the International Franchise Association, Obamacare will add more than $6.4 billion in costs to franchise businesses. We can only hope these owners come to their senses and understand the news will oust them for their harsh treatment of loyal employees. I could really go for a trip to lunch, without a guilt trip.