House approves bill defining full-time employees as those working 40 hours

For the second time this year, the House of Representatives approved legislation to ease the health care reform law’s definition of a full-time employee by changing it to those working an average of at least 40 hours per week, shielding more employers from a stiff financial penalty imposed by the law.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers with at least 100 employees are required, effective in 2015, to offer qualified coverage to full-time employees — defined as those working an average of 30 hours per week — or be liable for an annual $2,000 penalty per employee.

The same requirement applies, effective in 2016, to employers with between 50 and 99 employees.

The provision, included in a broader measure, H.R. 4., introduced by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and approved Thursday by the House on a 253-163 vote, would change the act’s definition of full-time employees to those working an average of 40 hours per week.

“Returning to the industry standard of 40 hours would benefit employers and employees alike and lessen the burden Obamacare places on businesses and the economy,” Neil Trautwein, vice president of health care policy at the National Retail Federation in Washington, said in a statement

A similar measure, H.R. 2575, was passed earlier by the House, but the Senate has not acted on it.

The White House, which says the proposed change would reduce the number of people receiving employment-based coverage by about 1 million, says President Barack Obama would veto such a proposal if approved by Congress.

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