Walt Disney World Offers Full-Time Employment to Certain Part-Time Employees Because of the Affordable Care Act

By: Timothy C. Haughee

October 3, 2013

Contrary to concerns about employers reducing their workforce’s hours to fewer than 30 per week to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act, the Orlando Sentinel reported yesterday that Walt Disney World announced that it has offered to elevate 427 part-time Disney employees to full-time status because those employees worked enough hours, despite their part-time status, to qualify as full-time employees under the Affordable Care Act.

Disney’s part-time employees are generally scheduled to work no more than 25 hours a week, but they have the opportunity to pick up extra shifts.  The 427 part-time employees who are the subject of Disney’s offer have worked enough extra shifts to put them over the 1,500 hour annual threshold used to define full-time employment under the Affordable Care Act.  If those employees are elevated to full-time status, then they would be guaranteed more hours and would have access to better benefits offered by the company.

The Service Trades Council, which is the coalition of unions that represents thousands of full-time and part-time employees of Walt Disney World, is hesitant to accept Disney’s offer.  The Council is concerned that the employees that Disney wants to elevate will leapfrog other part-time workers who have been employed by Disney for a longer period of time and have been waiting for full-time positions to become available.  Consequently, the Council has requested that Disney provide it with additional information, including the number of part-time employees being passed over for full-time consideration.

Disney’s actions reflect a larger effort by employers nationwide to begin reclassifying their current workforces to come into compliance with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  As noted in a prior post, the Affordable Care Act’s employer “play or pay” mandate will go into effect as of January 1, 2015.

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