Industry association officials cheered the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday that seeks to establish the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full-time as 40 hours per week.

The Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2013, or H.R. 2988, which was introduced by Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., would expand the definition of a full-time employee from the ACA’s current 30-hour-per-week threshold.

The ACA currently establishes that businesses with more than 50 full-time workers must provide health insurance for full-time employees who work either 30 hours a week or 130 hours per month. Many in the foodservice industry have been working to convince policymakers to increase the number of weekly hours worked to 35 or 40 since the ACA was passed in 2010.

This newest measure mirrors a similar bipartisan bill that had been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., earlier this year. Like the House bill, the Senate version redefines a full-time employee as one who works 40 hours a week or 174 hours a month based on a 52-week year.

In June, Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., also introduced a bill into the House to change the definition of full-time to 40 hours per week.

Association officials praised the new bipartisan House bill. “We’re pleased to see the bill introduced,” said Rob Green, president of the National Council of Chain Restaurants. “It’s great to see another bipartisan issue in Congress. It reflects a longstanding concern many of us have had about the law that even predates its passage.”

Scott DeFife, executive vice president, Policy and Government Affairs, for the National Restaurant Association, said the NRA and its members “appreciate Congressman Lipinski’s introduction of the Forty Hours is Full Time Act in the House, signaling bipartisan and bicameral support for addressing the definition of full-time employee in the health care law.

“The current definition at 30 hours is not aligned with current workforce practices and does not reflect the desire of restaurant and foodservice employees for flexible work schedules,” DeFife continued. “Only Congress can address this challenge in implementing the law.”

Steve Caldeira, chief executive of the International Franchise Association, said the Lipinski bill would “provide important relief from the Affordable Care Act’s mandates to both franchisees and small-business owners who are responsible for creating one out of every eight private-sector jobs in America, while allowing them to grow their businesses and provide flexible work hours to their employees.”

Commenting on the introduction of the bill, Lipinski said in a statement, “Even with the [Obama] administration’s recent decision to delay the Obamacare employer mandate for one year, we already know some employers are preparing to meet the law’s guidelines by slashing workers’ hours and forcing them to work 29 hours a week or less. This is reducing the take-home pay for millions of Americans at a time when they can least afford it. The ‘Forty Hours Is Full Time Act’ keeps the usual 40 hour full-time work week in place without sacrificing the goal of providing affordable, quality healthcare to Americans.”

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