Legislating Corporate Morality

I’ve always been a big believer that you can’t legislate morality, and I’m more than willing to expand that to say you can’t legislate business ethics, either.  I ran across an article that in part fully supports my newly expanded belief.  The rest of this post is very US-centric but I’m pretty sure it applies to just about anywhere in the world.

To make a long story short, the Affordable Care Act in the US says that companies must provide health care for full time employees and defines “full time” as 30 hours or more per week.  This seems a bit low to me, but it was clearly put there by the liberal side of the nation in the hope of enrolling as many people in health care as possible.  They also put the barrier so low because they were concerned that companies might be tempted to cut employee hours from 40 to, say, 35 or 37 to put them below the definition of full-time so they wouldn’t have to pay for their health care.

The new Republican-led Congress has introduced legislation to redefine full-time as 40 hours.  Liberal critics are saying that this will tempt employers to reduce 40 hour employees to 39 or less just as they had feared when the original plan was designed.  The Republican response to this claim?  They say they’re doing it to HELP the employees.  They say that by raising the bar to 40 hours, employers will be less likely to cut their full-time workers to the 29 hours or less per week that they would need in order to avoid paying for their health care under the existing plan and will only cut them to, say, 35 or so.

Essentially, both parties are assuming that companies are going to do everything they can to avoid providing health care for their workers.  The only difference is that the liberals are optimistic that businesses wouldn’t cut a worker’s hours by 25% or more and the conservatives are pretty sure that they would.  I continue to be amazed at our desire to screw over our fellow man.

Original story is here, relevant portion is “The 40-hour work week”, about halfway through the article.

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