SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles-based clothing retailer Forever 21 has denied cutting employees' hours due to Obamacare.
In a controversial move, the company recently announced it would be reducing some workers' hours to 29.5 a week, which is below the 30-hour a week full-time employment mark under the Affordable Care Act.
Critics believe the popular store made the decision in order to avoid paying for the new federally required health care.
In a statement, a company spokesperson said, "Forever 21, like all retailers, staffs its stores based on projected store sales, completely independent of the Affordable Care Act. After a recent evaluation, Forever 21 realigned its staffing needs to better reflect sales expectations. This realignment impacted 196 employees, less than 1% of all U.S. store employees. Furthermore, Forever 21 regularly promotes and converts employees in the ordinary course of business. Since the start of our fiscal year, March 1, 2013, Forever 21 has converted 421 part-time store employees to full-time status making them benefits eligible. Forever 21 values all of its employees and made every effort to affect as few employees as possible in this realignment."
Shoppers took to social media to unleash their opinions.
On Facebook, Ray Dunbar wrote, "I applaud your decision to cut hours. If all businesses will take this logical step, Obamacare will wither and die, which it should."
Linda Julien wrote, "So if your claim of projected decreased sales is true, then you would decrease employees. Not hours. Bad form and you're banned in my book."
Chris Thornberg, a founding partner at Beacon Economics, said Forever 21 isn't the only business to make some workers part-time. In April, Regal Entertainment Group announced a similar decision.
"There has been an increase in part-time employment. But that's what we call part-time employment for non-economic reason. That is to say that people who want to work part-time largely because maybe they're going to school, maybe it's just some extra money, maybe it's a second job," he said.
Thornberg said those employees who want and need health insurance will have the option of working elsewhere.
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