At a new Olive Garden in Stillwater, Okla., former busboy Keaton Hasty said employees were routinely limited to 29 1/2 hours.Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Longhorn Steakhouse (among others) openly admits that they are doing this to reduce expenses on health insurance under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (also known as Obamacare):
"It was 29 1/2, and they'd kick you out," said Hasty, a college student who now works at a pharmacy. "They'd always print off a little slip every day and say who was getting close."
In an emailed statement, Darden said staffing changes are "just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business. There are still many unanswered questions regarding the health care regulations and we simply do not have enough information to make any decisions at this time."ACA requirements kick in for employees who regularly work 30 hours or more a week. So Darden avoids having to provide health insurance (or pay the $3k fine for failure to provide health insurance) by cutting back on hours. Darden outlet managers had best be prepared to deal with this dilemma: on nights when there is a bigger-than-expected crowd: do you add personnel knowing it may lead to higher insurance costs or do you lose business from disappointed customers get tired of waiting longer for tables and service? (I bet you there are some MBAs who are working as we speak on algorithms to deal with this issue. Click here for info on their internship programs in marketing and finance.)