After being served a large order of negative publicity, the company that owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants has decided not to chop workers' hours to avoid the cost of providing them health coverage under Obamacare.
The announcement from Darden Inc., the Orlando-based company, came in the same week it offered a lowered profit outlook for the year, blaming failed promotions and public backlash on the Obamacare issue.
The company said back in October it would conduct tests in four different markets to see if using more part-time employees was the way to go. Under the law, large companies must provide insurance to employes working over 30 hours a week starting in 2014.
Customers flooded Darden with feedback on its company web site and Facebook page and in restaurants, Bob McAdam, who heads government affairs and community relations for Darden, told the Associated Press. Also, internal surveys showed both employee and customer satisfaction declined at restaurants where the tests were in place. Darden reported $476 million in profit last year and has 185,000 employees, about 75 percent of whom work part time.
"What that taught us is that our restaurants perform better when we have full-time hourly employees involved," McAdam told the Associated Press.
Via Associated Press