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Affordable Care Act Could Boost the Use of Temporary Workers

Washington Post (03/26/13) Jay Hancock

The Affordable Care Act could prove to be a boon for staffing companies as employers outsource jobs to sidestep complex requirements for medical insurance. Starting in January, employers with at least 50 workers must offer affordable coverage or pay a penalty. To stay under this limit, some are considering outsourcing jobs to specialists. The health law is also prompting larger organizations to use staffing firms. By requiring employer coverage only for those who put in at least 30 hours a week, the act appears to create an incentive for companies to do less with permanent workers and more with part-timers.

Kelly Services chief executive Carl Camden downplays the idea that employers will shed health coverage liabilities by using staffing companies. He sees clients’ adjustment to the health act as “a modest opportunity” for his company. “There is a portion of the staffing industry who think there will be a large amount of companies trying to avoid obligations under the ACA and trying to shift over to staffing firms,” Camden says. “I don’t see that as happening.”

The bigger business may be helping companies navigate the law through consulting or by taking over temporary jobs they already have, Camden and other industry officials say. “We expect that clients that have those kinds of workers and who are daunted by the complexity of the Affordable Care Act will look to staffing firms to help them manage those kinds of workers,” says Edward A. Lenz, senior counsel for the American Staffing Association.