iPads and other tablets may replace workers at fast-food restaurants because of Obamacare and other federal and state government mandates that dramatically increase the cost of doing business.
That is the assessment of Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, parent company of the Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s fast-food chains. Like other business leaders have declared, he also maintains that firms will likely hire more part-time employees to avoid the added costs imposed by Obamacare and other regulations.
You may remember the hot Carl’s Jr. Super Bowl ad with model Nina Agdal.
Insurers have gone on record warning of of premium sticker-shock under the ironically named Affordable Care Act. For example, the Ohio Department of Insurance has recently predicted a staggering 88 percent increase in health insurance premium costs in 2014.
Various employers around the country have already cautioned that they may pass along expensive insurance cost hikes to customers. Other employers are downgrading workers into part-time status so they no longer have eligibility for insurance coverage or purposely keeping headcount below 50 to avoid the law’s provisions — which means ongoing unemployment when jobseekers don’t get hired. Employers above the 50-worker threshold may find it more cost effective to drop health benefits entirely and pay the $2,000 fine per full-time worker.
Said Puzder about replacing flesh-and-blood employees with kiosks:
You’re going to go into a fast-food restaurant and order on an iPad or tablet instead of talking to a person because we don’t have to pay benefits for any of those things.
A supporter of technology, the CEO nonetheless lamented that the personal touch (as it were) is going to lost with iPad ordering as well as the opportunity for some companies to offer entry-level jobs to newcomers to the workforce.
As far as the burgeoning amount of part-time employment to avoid Obamacare, Pudzer insisted that his fast-food restaurants won’t be forcing anyone to go from full time to part time. “Everybody is hiring more part-time employees … we’re not firing anyone to hire [part-time workers]. Through attrition, three full-time employees go away and you hire four part-time employees who basically have the same hours.”
Because the US Health and Human Services Department has yet to issue final Obamacare regulations, Pudzer explained that his company has been unable to definitively pinpoint how it will restructure its employee health benefits program.
CKE is headquartered in California but has no plans to expand the number of restaurants in that state because “California is not interested in having businesses grow,” due to intrusive regulations.”
As we have previously reported, some economists have blamed Obamacare for the continuing high unemployment rate.
Look on the bright side if there is one; iPad ordering may mean a greater likelihood that your food purchase comes out correctly.
Do you agree or disagree with the premise that “The ultimate victims [of overregulation] are middle-class entrepreneurs, like restaurant managers, and the low-skill workers they employ”?