Week 3: The basics: Definitions and premise of policy-making

Policy making is done at all levels of society from government and private organization to individuals. Geurts (n.d.) defines public policy making as “‘a choice that government makes in response to a political issue or a public problem.’ Policies are made in an attempt to achieve a desire outcome for the situation at hand or for the population that the policy may affect. At the government level, a policy starts as a bill. A bill has to be sponsored by any member of congress and it is that member that introduces the bill initially with the designations of H.R. for House bills and S. for Senate bills (www.naeyc.org, n.d.). After introduction of the bill and designation as mentioned previously, the bill is sent to the appropriate committee with jurisdiction over the bills primary issue.

In the case of the ACA 40 hour definition of the work week was the original bill was H.R.2575 – Save American Workers Act of 2014 an was introduced in June 2013 by Rep. Young, Todd C (R-IN-9) and passed in April 2014 (www.congress.gov, 2014). The bill was read again in April 2014 and then place on the Senates Legislative Calendar. In the Senate it is introduced by Sen Susan Collins (R-ME) as S.30 – Forty hours is Full Time Act of 2015 where it was read twice upon introduction and has been referred to the Committee on Finance (www.congress.gov, 2015). Both pieces of legislature seek to amend the current policy which mandates employers to provide health care coverage to their full time employees currently at 30 hours per week and increase the full time employment definition to be 40 hours per week.

At this time S. 30 has been referred to the Committee on Finance with no exact date for further action. This date is and if the bill comes before congress is decided upon by the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate (naeyc.org, n.d.). A report of the bill detailing the intent, legislative history, its impact on current laws and programs and the position of the majority of the member of the committee is written by the referral Committee Chairman’s staff. This speaks to the premise of the policy and the repercussions of its passage. If it passes again it is referred to the other chamber who reviews it again before there is a conference on the bill and then it goes on for action by the President.

Overall there are strong arguments against this bill. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has sent a letter to the House of Representatives to oppose this bill (www.rnaction.org, 2014) as its passage would negatively affect nurses who work full time less than 40 hours a week which is recommended to prevent nurse fatigue and  to promote safety and health for both patients and nurses (www.nursingworld.org, 2014).  The ANA is currently calling all nurses to share their stories of the negative impact this bill could have on them.

References

American Nurses Association (ANA). (2014). When Nurses Talk…Washington Listens. Retrieved from http://www.rnaction.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=12121&em_id=15681.0

American Nurses Association (ANA). (2014). ANA Position Statement: Addressing Nurse Fatigue to Promote Safety and Health: Joint Responsibilities of Registered Nurses and Employers to Reduce Risks. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/Addressing-Nurse-Fatigue-ANA-Position-Statement.pdf

Congress.gov. (2014). H.R.2575 – Save American Workers Act of 2014. Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/2575/

Congress.gov. (2015). S.30 – Forty Hours Is Full Time Act of 2015. Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/30?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22forty+hours+is+full+time+act+of+2015%22

Guerts, T. (n.d.). Public Policy Making: The 21st Century Perspective. Retrieved from http://www.beinformed.com/BeInformed/webdav-resource/binaries/pdf/publications/public-policy-making.pdf?webdav-id=/Be%20Informed%20Bibliotheek/0000%20WEBDAV/WebDAV%20StatContent.bixml

National Association for the Education of Young Children. (n.d.). Steps in Making a Bill a Law: The Federal Legislative Process. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/policy/federal/bill_law

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Are there Ethical considerations to note regarding the bill: ACA 40 hour work week?

The issue of the definition of full time employment being redefined as 40 hours per week from 30 hours per week has its pros and cons. The question that comes to mind is who does this benefit? The bill’s chief sponsor Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind. Did make a note of the fact that many employers have been reducing the hours of part-time workers to less than 30 per week to avoid having to offer and cover health insurance benefits as mandated by law (Miller, 2014). “Many of our hourly workers are experiencing a drop in the number of hours and wages that they enjoy of as much as 25 percent,” Young said. “These are cafeteria workers, these are substitute teachers, these are adjunct professors. … On balance, these are folks who can least afford to see a cut in their take-home pay. And so we want to restore the 40-hour workweek.” – Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind.

The flip side of this is that there are professions where full time employment does not count as a 40 hour work week. Some job requirements while using 30 hours a week as the definition for full time employment schedule employees to work at least 36 hours per week to meet their full time requirements. For example a lot of health care institutions employ medical professionals with such schedules. How would this affect scheduling and staffing of jobs which research has shown that this method of staffing is effective and most beneficial for the type of work, organizations and its workforce?

Yes, the proposed bill will hinder employers from reducing workers’ hours to below 30 hours per week in order to avoid the mandate to offer health insurance benefits but it will also affect staffing and schedules in other well established parts of the work force. According to Knoll (2011) nurses reported that 12 hour shift schedules improved staff morale and reduced absenteeism due to a better work-life balance which translated to better patient care.

Comments, questions and concerns about this policy in the making are requested and will be appreciated. Should we as future advance practice nurses support this bill or not? What would the impact be on the general workforce? Could this bill protect or harm businesses and/or employees alike? Any suggestions for Congress that would satisfy both the needs of employers and employees or at least mitigate the ramifications of the new bill as it is written and its potential side effects?

References

Knoll, M. (2013). The Nursing Debate: 8-Hour Shifts vs. 12-Hour Shifts. Retrieved from       http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/nursing-debate-8-hour-shifts-vs-12-hour-shifts/

Miller, S. (2014). 40-Hour Workweek Bill Passes House; Senate Prospects Slim Retrieved from http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/benefits/articles/pages/40-hour-workweek-passes-house.aspx

Week 1: ACA 40 Hour Mandated Work Week

Affordable Care Act 40 Hour Mandated Work Week

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) gives no definition of full time employment (www.dol.gov, 2015). According to the United States Department of Labor website the matters of full time or part time employment are left to be determined by the employer (www.dol.gov, 2015). Full time employment had been described as working no less than 30 hours/week to help guide employers for the purpose of offering health insurance benefits. The definition of full time employment is now being defined and this new definition may affect a good number of the work force in positions where it is more productive to work less than 40 hours/week and still be able to receive health insurance benefits from the employer.

 

Current Position: The recently passed Save American Workers Act of 2015 (congress.gov, 2015) which redefines “full-time employee” under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) raising it to 40hrs/week from 30hrs/week for purposes of employers mandated to offer health insurance benefits to employees’ employed on a “full-time” basis. It is currently referred to at congress.gov as the Forty Hours Is Full Time Act of 2015 with its summary list as “in progress.” This would impact some professions such as nursing where some full-time employees are only required to work 36hrs/week.

Topics Relevance: It is important to understand the rationale behind the definition of full-time employment as 30 hours/week and how this new policy would affect the workforce and the flexibility that comes with the way the shifts are designed, for example, nurses who work 3 – 12 hour shifts for a total of 36 hours a week.

References

Congress.gov. (2014). H.R.2575 – Save American Workers Act of 2014. Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/2575/

Congress.gov. (2015). S.30 – Forty Hours Is Full Time Act of 2015. Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/30?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22forty+hours+is+full+time+act+of+2015%22%5D%7D

United States Department of Labor (2015). Fair Labor Standards Act. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/014.htm

United States Department of Labor (2015). Work Hours: Full-Time Employment. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/workhours/full-time.htm