Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hours cuts at Olive Garden

Prediction: it might start taking longer to get your second helping from the endless salad bowl at Olive Garden.  The Orlando Sentinel reports that Olive Garden restaurants in four different markets (including central Florida) have cut back significantly on full-time schedules.  To be precise, they are doing their best to make sure no one works 30 hours or more.
At a new Olive Garden in Stillwater, Okla., former busboy Keaton Hasty said employees were routinely limited to 29 1/2 hours.

"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."
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):
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.) 

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