Darden walks back changes over 'Obamacare'

Full-time workers won't be shifted to part-time -- for now

Published On: Dec 06 2012 08:05:46 AM EST   Updated On: Dec 06 2012 08:50:23 AM EST
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Darden Restaurants Inc., which owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster, won't shift any current full-time workers to part-time status in 2014 when new health care regulations take effect.

The company was considering the shift to limit costs tied to health care changes, referred to by some as "Obamacare," which will require large companies to provide insurance to full-time workers starting in 2014.

“Although our workforce historically has been heavily part-time, we have always had a significant number of full-time employees and they are integral to our success," Darden Chairman and CEO Clarence Otis said.  "The data we have collected during our test around guest satisfaction and employee engagement has only reinforced this.  As we think about healthcare reform, while many of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s rules and regulations have yet to be finalized, we are pleased we know enough at this point to make firm and hopefully reassuring commitments to our full-time employees.”

Darden says about 75 percent of its 185,000 employees are part-timers.

The company did not rule out increasing that ratio in the future, as it learns more about the costs of the changes.

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