Original article from https://www.businessinsurance.com

By Jerry Geisel

Nearly all large employers are not considering reducing the number of hours employees work in response to the health care reform law, according to a survey released Thursday.

Ninety-eight percent of employers surveyed by Towers Watson & Co. said they have not and are not considering asking full-time employees to move to part-time status due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Under the health care reform law, employers must extend coverage to employees working at least 30 hours a week starting next year or pay a $2,000 penalty for each full-time employee.

The threat of the penalty has led to numerous predictions that some employers would reduce hours of employees now working at least 30 hours per week who are not offered health care plan coverage to avoid the penalty in the future.

But few employers appear willing to take such action.

“It’s clear that most employers are hesitant to rush and implement changes that will negatively affect workers,” Laura Sejen, New York-based global head of rewards for Towers Watson, said in a statement.

In fact, some employers are easing health care plan eligibility requirements. Earlier this week, for example, Cumberland Gulf Group of Framingham, Mass., said employees working as few as 32 hours a week will be eligible for group coverage effective Oct. 1, down from the current 40-hour-a-week requirement.

The Towers Watson survey is based on the responses of 113 employers, all of which have at least 1,000 employees.