SeaWorld cutting part-time workers hours, will avoid Obamacare requirements

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SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. is capping the hours its part-time employees will be allowed to work, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The Orlando-based company will be reducing the limit on hours for part-time workers from 32 weekly hours to 28 weekly hours, a policy which allows the theme park to avoid providing healthcare coverage to those part-time employees as required by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The policy is scheduled to take effect by November.

SeaWorld employs about 22,000 employees, including 18,000 part-time or seasonal workers, according to the paper.

While the company did not explicitly say the decision to reduce hours was taken in response to the health care mandate, the reduction in hours means that employees will not be considered full-time workers (or averaging 30 hours a week) under the new health care law and therefore not required to be covered by SeaWorld.

In a written statement to the Sentinel and subsequently to The Daily Caller, SeaWorld explained that the “move is intended to bring consistency to the part-time designation across the SeaWorld Parks system.”

SeaWorld did not elaborate on how many employees would be affected by the policy change, but added to that the company plans to hire more full-time hourly employees across its 11 locations next year and those positions will include healthcare benefits.

The Republican National Committee attributed the cut in hours to Obamacare, and posted the story about SeaWorld’s cuts on its “Obamacosts” website.

“The Obama economy is a part time economy due to Obamacare which punishes businesses for having full time workers,” Raffi Williams, an RNC spokesman, wrote The Daily Caller in an email. “Sea World is just the latest company to show the tangible effects of this disappointing trend. The government should be in the business of encouraging private sector growth, not stunting it with poorly conceived laws.”

The Sentinel reported that experts see the cuts in hours to be a way to avoid the mandate and accompanying fines for noncompliance.

“There is no other reason to change your cap from 32 hours to 28 other than” the Affordable Care Act, Duncan Dickson, an associate professor in the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, told the Sentinel.

“I hear my kids [students] talking about getting their hours cut. Everybody’s very attuned to the 30-hour thing,” he added.

The news that SeaWorld will be reducing hours comes as other companies have been similarly downsizing their employee’s hours, some pointing directly at the requirements under Obamacare as the reason.

This story has been updated with details from SeaWorld’s statement. 

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