Under Obamacare, Restaurant Chains Consider a Future of Part-Time Employees

White Castle says costs would otherwise rise 24 percent


At a California Tortilla restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C., managers say they're still figuring out what strategy to use to comply with the new law's mandate to provide health insurance for all workers who put in at least 30 hours a week: whether they should trim hours, hire more part-timers or leave things unchanged.

But management at another fast-food chain has made a decision. White Castle decided it will not fire full-time employees or cut benefits as a result of the new health care law, says Vice President Jamie Richardson. These full-time employees, who make up roughly half of White Castle's 9,600-member workforce, are already covered by the company's health care plan.

"If you're full-time at White Castle, you're going to stay full-time at White Castle," Richardson says. But as White Castle looks into the future after the new law takes effect, Richardson says the company is considering hiring only part-time workers.