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updated 1/8/2013 1:18:48 PM ET 2013-01-08T18:18:48

Around 100 Nebraska-area Wendy's franchises will reduce worker hours to 28 per week in an effort to avoid healthcare costs.

Two more fast food franchises are cutting worker hours in order to avoid paying for Obamacare-mandated employee health care.

According to local Nebraska NBC affiliate WOWT, around 100 Wendy’s employees in the Omaha area are going to see their hours reduced to 28 hours a week, meaning they will no longer qualify for the health care benefits which Obamacare mandates for full-time employees. A Taco Bell in Guthrie, Oklahoma has reportedly adopted a similar policy.

Other restaurant chains have tried to dodge Obamacare costs, with mixed results. After a Florida Denny’s franchise added a 5% “Obamacare surcharge” to customers’ checks, the CEO of Denny’s publicly reprimanded the franchise’s owner. Darden Restaurants—the owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster—is evidently still going forward with its own experiment in reducing Obamacare costs, though the company was forced to “clarify” its position following a public backlash and subsequent drop in earnings.

It remains to be seen whether a similar fate will befall Nebraska Wendy’s restaurants. What is known is that the industry-wide shift to part-time labor has very little to do with the Affordable Care Act, and is likely to proceed apace regardless of developments in the nation’s health care infrastructure.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about half of all fast food employees already work part-time, and that the number of Americans forced into involuntary part-time labor has been increasing since 2006 [PDF].

The trend precedes Obamacare by a few years, and the cost of the legislation to large businesses is in fact rather negligible—4.3%, according to the Urban Institute [PDF]. Meanwhile, fast food work is still the lowest-paying occupation in America, even as the profits of major fast food companies have increased since the 2008 financial collapse.


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