As first reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Darden Restaurants - owners of about 2,000 outlets including the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains - is studying ways to shift more employees under the 30-hour ceiling.
About three-quarters of its 185,000 workers are already under, says spokesman Rich Jeffers. The question is "can we go higher and still deliver a great [eating] experience."
The financial stakes are sizable. Suppose Darden moves 1,000 servers under 30 hours and avoids paying $5,000 insurance for each. The annual savings: $5 million.
As a reaction to Obamacare, this makes business sense, but in other ways, it doesn't.
Waiters and waitresses going below 30 hours a week will lose income. They make about $15 an hour with tips, says Jeffers. A server who drops five hours would lose $75 a week.
Although some servers under the limit might increase their hours and incomes, jobs will become less attractive because earnings will be effectively capped. Turnover, already 50 percent annually, might rise, as would Darden's training costs.
On average, servers receive 35 hours of training, says Jeffers.
Many companies, especially in the fast-food, retailing and hotel industries, will explore similar changes.
Some workers will resent the limits on their wages. Others will think that companies have illegally denied them insurance, even though the IRS guidelines permit much flexibility in calculating who exceeds the 30-hour limit.
That's why the IRS notice is so long and complex. Still, some firms will cheat; enforcement will be hard.
The argument about Obamacare is often framed as a moral issue.
It's the caring and compassionate against the cruel and heartless.
That's the rhetoric.
The reality is different. Many of us who oppose Obamacare don't do so because we enjoy seeing people suffer. We believe that, in an ideal world, everyone would have insurance.
But we also think that Obamacare has huge drawbacks that outweigh its plausible benefits.
It creates powerful pressures against companies hiring full-time workers - precisely the wrong approach after the worst economic slump since the Depression.
There will be more bewildering regulations, more regulatory uncertainties, more unintended side effects and more disappointments.
A costly and opaque system will become more so.