Papa John's CEO Says 'Obamacare' Will Up Pizza Price


But part-time employees are not required to be covered under the law. While Papa John's would not disclose how many of its employees were part-time, in the food and beverage industry as a whole, half of all workers were part time in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Where Papa John's and other restaurant chains may run into costs from the health law is under a new definition of "full-time" employees. Anyone who works more than 35 hours, the average weekly hours of a part-time restaurant employee, is considered full-time under the law and will thus have to be provided with health insurance.

The "bulk" of the costs for complying with the Affordable Care Act will stem from restaurants being required to give health insurance to their previously part-time employees, said Angelo Amador, the vice president of Labor and Workforce Policy at the National Restaurant Association.

Steven Wojcik, vice president of Public Policy for the National Business Group on Health, said he expects that rather than pay for these employees to get health insurance, restaurant owners will cut back hours to keep the majority of their workforce part-time.

"What's going to happen is restaurants are going to have to make a choice," Wojcik said. "My full-time employees, I'm going to have to move some of them to part-time. I'm definitely not going to go out and hire more restaurant employees to stay under the 50-person cap and I may scale back some of the hours of the ones that currently work more than 30 hours per week."

Wojcik said that while some waiters, cooks and pizza makers who are already full-time may score health insurance from their employer, "we will not expect a lot more coverage of restaurant employees unless Americans are willing to pay a lot more for a meal."

That's the same sentiment that former Godfather's Pizza chairman Herman Cain expressed 18 years ago when President Bill Clinton was trying to reform health care.

Cain, who ran a failed bid for the GOP presidential nomination this year, said during the 1994 health care fight that he would either have to make his pizzas far more expensive or eliminate jobs to comply with Clinton's plan and provide health insurance to more employees.

"Employers who do not cover employees do not for one simple reason, and it relates to cost," Cain said in 1994. "If you force me to cover those employees, I may not be in the position to provide those jobs."

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