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Q-and-A: Health care law update with NRA’s Randy Spicer

4 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Understanding the implications of the 2010 health care law and how it affects specific employers can be a tricky business for restaurant operators. As VP of Health and Insurance Services for the National Restaurant Association, Randy Spicer leads the NRA’s Health Program business and strategic alliance with UnitedHealthcare — the country’s largest health insurance company with more than 25 million members. We interviewed Spicer on a couple of the things restaurant owners should know about the health care mandate, and where they can go for more information. Spicer will address questions like these at the NRA Show in Chicago taking place May 17-20 as a panelist in two education sessions titled Implementing the Health Care Law in Your Restaurant Operation.

The House recently passed the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), which would change the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full-time worker from 30 hours a week to 40 hours. How would this change affect restaurants in terms of the health care law?

The House of Representatives voted April 3 to pass the Save American Workers Act, which would change the health care law’s definition of “full-time” from 30 hours to 40 hours per week. Currently, the [Affordable Care Act] requires businesses to use the 30-hour standard in determining how many people they employ. Employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees could face penalties if they fail to offer health plans to employees who average more than 30 hours a week during a month.

The definition of full-time employee is of particular importance to restaurants because of the industry’s unique reliance on large numbers of part-time and seasonal workers with fluctuating and unpredictable work hours, as well as unpredictable lengths of service. While changing to 40 hours will not eliminate all penalties, it will allow employers to continue to offer flexible work schedules in line with a traditional 40 hour definition of fulltime.

Only large employers are subject to the employer mandate. How can restaurants determine if they meet the definition of a large employer?

Large applicable employers, those with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees including full-time salaried and hourly workers and counting part-timers based on the hours they work, must contend with a series of provisions of the law. The law includes an employer mandate to offer all full-time employees and their dependents affordable coverage of minimum value or potentially face penalties. For more information, visit the NRA Knowledge Center website at or make an appointment to meet with a Knowledge Center Consultant at the NRA Show.

What should restaurants be doing to notify employees about how to obtain health care coverage?

If your restaurant is covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, you’re required to provide existing and new employees with written notice about the health insurance exchanges that offer people new options for coverage. Beyond the required notice, however, your team members may turn to you for information on a range of topics and may need help in understanding who needs to get insurance, penalties for not getting it, where they can get it, and whether they can get subsidies to buy it. The National Restaurant Association’s Notification Tool is an online solution that can help restaurateurs provide the new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) notification about exchanges to employees and keep track of those whom they’ve notified. This member-only tool gives employers an easy way to prove they’ve kept up with the law’s requirements to notify employees, peace of mind that all employees can be properly notified when they access the site and stored employee notifications for online employer tracking and proof of notification. Members can register at /Notify and for questions, please email [email protected] or contact me at [email protected] or (214) 448-4452.

What is the next health care deadline for restaurants, and where can employers go to find information on how and when they should be implementing health care changes in their restaurants?

Implementation of the health care law is one of the greatest challenges restaurant operators face and the deadlines vary by size of restaurant and coverage decisions that are made. Restaurants are interacting now with the State and Federal Exchanges, helping employees understand the Individual Mandate penalties effective this year, and making determinations for their plan offerings before this fall’s open enrollment. You’ll find important information by visiting the NRA Knowledge Center website at or by making an appointment to meet with a Knowledge Center Consultant at the NRA Show.