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Testifying on behalf of the National Restaurant Association today, Jamie Richardson of White Castle System Inc. called on Congress to address challenges facing restaurant operators in implementing the health care law.

Richardson, VP of government, shareholder and community relations for White Castle, testified before a joint hearing of two subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives' Education and the Workforce Committee examining the employer mandate's effect on workplaces.

"As White Castle, along with restaurants throughout the country, implements the new requirements determined by the health care law, we face unprecedented challenges that must be addressed," Richardson said. "We're committed to addressing those challenges in a way that enables us to continue serving our customers with excellence – and to do that effectively, we need Congress' help."

Richardson called on Congress to address key definitions in the law, explaining that the law's definition of a "full-time employee" does not reflect restaurant-industry workforce needs or employees' desire for flexible hours.

In addition, Richardson noted that the calculation to determine whether a business is a large or small employer is unnecessarily complicated, and especially burdensome for small businesses that are forced to closely track their status from year to year. He also called on Congress to eliminate the duplicative automatic enrollment provision, which has the potential to confuse and financially harm employees while burdening employers who are already offering the same employees coverage.

"This law is one of the most significant requirements our industry has had to comply with that any can remember," Richardson said. "While we appreciate the transition relief, giving us the opportunity to receive and understand the rules and then implement them, the industry still faces challenges only Congress can address."

As part of its ongoing efforts to educate members, the National Restaurant Association has launched an online Health Care Knowledge Center and a comprehensive Health Care Law Primer.

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