Restaurant chain charging an “Obamacare” fee
In Florida, the Gator’s Dockside chain of casual restaurants is passing along the costs of Obamacare, rather than closing their doors and laying off over 500 employees. All tabs are being charged a 1.0 percent “Affordable Care Act surcharge,” which is only a few cents in most cases, but a cost passed along to consumers, nonetheless.
Customers are warned by signage on the front door and at their table, and the fee is listed as a separate, transparent line item on the bill. Signs state that “The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors. Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.”
Nearly half of the company’s employees work full time, and only management receives health benefits, but when Obamacare kicks in, all full-time employees will have to be covered. The company says that charging the fee allows them to continue offering full-time hours to workers rather than cut them down to part-time as many other businesses are choosing to do.
Sandra Clark, the company’s Director of Operations said, “I’m just trying to keep the employees I have that I’ve worked hard to train,” adding that on top of paying to provide health insurance under the new laws, they’ve incurred the cost of hired a consulting firm and one full time staffer to make sure they are compliant with the new laws, estimating that with all of these costs, it will exceed $500,000 annually to insure employees.
Companies are adapting to the new Obamacare laws differently – some are passing costs along to customers, others are cutting hours for employees to avoid incurring new costs, and yet others are laying off employees. It will be interesting to see what other creative ways companies find to pay for the new expense, and hopefully it is not at the literal expense of peoples’ jobs.