Virginia Cuts State Employees’ Hours To Avoid Providing Obamacare Coverage

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA)

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA)

As part of his state’s new budget, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and his administration are trying to force potentially tens of thousands of public sector employees in the state to work fewer hours so that the government can avoid providing them health care.

Under Obamacare, employers are required to offer health insurance options for any employee working 30 hours or more per week. So McDonnell and his team have slipped language into the state’s budget bill requiring that any hourly waged workers employed by the state put in no more than 29 hours a week.

The rule applies to a range of state employees, including adjunct college professors:

The 29-hour limit is on its way to becoming state law, thanks to language inserted into the state budget at the request of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration. The language appears in both versions of the budget adopted Thursday by the Senate and House of Delegates.[…]

Anticipating legislative approval of the policy, the state Department of Human Resource Management has advised all state agencies to implement it now.

The state has more than 37,000 wage employees. More than 7,000 of them have been working at least 30 hours a week, according to a recent survey taken by the department.

Other public universities have made the same shift to lower hours for employees to avoid providing them with basic health benefits. But the anti-labor practice is more prevalent in the private sector, where a huge number of businesses in the restaurant industry — including Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and Denny’s — seek to pass the cost of health care onto their low-wage employees by limiting their hours. Workers who don’t receive employer-based coverage will be able to find insurance through the public exchanges.