By BEN HEINEMANN
Today's story is part two of a three-part series. To read part one,.
During the first general session of the International Franchise Association’s
(IFA) 2012 Public Affairs Conference, Matt Haller, vice president of public affairs and chief of staff to the president and CEO of the IFA, moderated the association’s government affairs update. Participating in the panel were Judith Thorman, senior vice president of government relations and public policy for the IFA, Jay Perron, vice president of government relations and public policy for the IFA and Dean Heyl, director of state government relations and public policy and tax counsel for the IFA.
In part two of this story, we look at two more political and policy topics the panel discussed during the conference.
Affordable Care Act
As we already covered this issue
, the Affordable Care Act is one of the biggest issues of the current election. It’s also a provision the IFA and many small business owners have the most concerns about.
“A lot of the elements of the law were left to be decided through regulations,” explained Thorman. “We have been working diligently to try to influence that regulatory process.”
This includes pushing the government to re-define what it means to be a full-time employee, as the law stipulates any business with 50 or more employees must provide insurance to those employees.
“A lot of these regulations are very complex. One of the issues that has been important to our members or any employer that has employees coming in and out of the system frequently is the definition of a full time employee--which is 30 hours under the law, but how one defines that 30 hours is very important," continued Thorman.
The IFA recently learned that employers will indeed be able to average those hours over a year period, which Thorman said is good news for all business owners.
“If you have someone working for three months for you over a summer and they’re working 30 hours a week, you can take the full year and see if, on average, they worked 30 hours [a week]. That helps a lot.”
The IFA has also been engaged in a number of labor-related issues revolving around the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
One issue that the IFA has taken action against is Card Check, or the ability for employees to form micro-unions, something that can take small business and large business owners off guard.
“Recently (the NLRB) pushed Bergdorf Goodman to have their shoe department unionized,” said Perron. "You can imagine that, for instance, you go into a pizza franchise and they just organized the pizza delivery men and how difficult that would be [for the owner] because you have to essentially negotiate with the pizza delivery men about their wages and about their hours.”
As such, the IFA is currently working to prevent Card Check and it’s an issue Perron and others are urging franchises and franchisees to keep an eye on.