Forever 21 to cut full-time positions for non-managers - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Forever 21 to cut full-time positions for non-managers

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

There's growing controversy over one retailer's plan to do away with some of its full-time positions.

And many suspect it's an attempt to avoid paying health benefits under the Obama Administration's Affordable Care Act.

Starting Aug. 31, workers who are not managers at Forever 21 won't be working full-time there any longer.

And they won't be eligible for health benefits.

The clothing retailer is a fixture in six Phoenix-area malls, popular with young women for its trendy clothes and low prices.

"I go basically as often as I can," said Arizona State University freshman Samantha Clark. "Whenever I have money to shop, it's usually Forever 21."

Another ASU freshman, Ashlyn Harrop said, "It's affordable, and they have really cute styles there. And I really like their jewelry."

But many loyal shoppers don't like Forever 21's plan to get rid of full-time non-managerial jobs.

"I think they're working the system - where they aren't giving them health benefits purposefully," said Harrop.

There are hundreds of critical posts on Forever 21's Facebook page – many pointing out that by cutting maximum part-time hours to 29.5, the company avoids having to pay health benefits under the ACA by just a half hour.

"It's not fair to cut their hours just so you don't have to provide that," said ASU staffer Lenora Ott.

Even if the move is to skirt new ACA rules, which go into effect next year, Forever 21 also has its supporters.

One Facebook post reads,"Buckle up, Baby! This is only the tip of the iceberg. More and more businesses will be doing this. Don't blame you one bit, F21. My daughters love your store and we will definitely continue shopping with you. "

In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, this is becoming a trend that has franchisees of companies – including Burger King, McDonald's and Taco Bell – cutting back on full-time employment.

"I think they're cheating themselves too, because then they're not going to have as loyal employees because the employees are going to feel cheated," said Clark. "And I think that can cheapen and lessen the feel of the store."

A company response on Forever 21's Facebook page states:

"Forever 21, like all retailers, staffs its stores based on projected store sales, completely independent of the Affordable Care Act. After a recent evaluation, Forever 21 realigned its staffing needs to better reflect sales expectations. This realignment impacted 196 employees, less than 1% of all U.S. store employees. Furthermore, Forever 21 regularly promotes and converts employees in the ordinary course of business. Since the start of our fiscal year, March 1, 2013, Forever 21 has converted 421 part-time store employees to full-time status making them benefits eligible. Forever 21 values all of its employees and made every effort to affect as few employees as possible in this realignment."

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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