OPERATIONS

NRF urges 40-hour week for full-time workers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation (NRF) has urged Congress to pass the bipartisan Save American Workers Act, which would change the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full-time employment from 30 hours per week to 40 hours. NRF sent a letter to the House saying all votes related to the bill, H.R. 2575, would be considered key votes for the association’s annual scorecard.

The key vote letter follows testimony from NRF VP and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein before the House Ways and Means Committee in January, when he said the 30-hour definition is difficult for retailers because of the large number of employees who work variable hours. In addition to seeking a 40-hour definition for full-time workers, NRF has supported legislation that would limit the law to companies with 100 or more full-time workers rather than 50.

“The 40-hour full-time definition proposed in H.R. 2575 will return flexibility to employers,” French wrote. “We hope to continue to work to help mitigate the negative effects [the Affordable Care Act has] on the retail industry and retail employees.”

The Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate is set to go into effect in 2015 for employers with 100 or more full-time workers and 2016 for employers with 50 or more.

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OPERATIONS

Neiman Marcus combining online and store leadership teams

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The Neiman Marcus Group is reorganizing its leadership structure by merging its stores and online management structure into one team as it looks to expand its presence across all channels. The change will take effect April 14.

“Over the years the way our customers shop our stores and websites has changed, and will continue to change with the increasing popularity and convenience of smart phones and tablets,” Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz said in a statement. “Our customers do not differentiate between channels and now neither will we. These changes allow us to operate as one, single, Neiman Marcus brand.”

Under the changes, Jim Gold, currently president of specialty retail of Neiman Marcus, has been named president of The Neiman Marcus Group and chief merchandising officer. He will be charged with an integrated merchant and planning team for Neiman Marcus stores and online.

John Koryl, currently president of Neiman Marcus Direct, also moves into a bigger role, and will serve as president of Neiman Marcus stores and online. Gold and Koryl will both continue to report to Katz.

As part of this reorganization, the divisional merchandise manager positions over various categories will be responsible for both store and online merchandise.

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NRF opposes minimum wage hike

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation (NRF) has publicly called Senate legislation aimed at increasing the federal minimum wage by 40% an anti-job tax that would lead to higher labor costs for employers and fewer opportunities for young and entry-level workers. NRF will include votes on the minimum wage as “Key Retail Votes” in its annual voting scorecard used to measure legislative support for the retail industry’s public policy priorities.

NRF says it believes that this is the “least opportune moment” to mandate a federal wage increase on employers with small and large businesses alike already confronting the myriad workforce challenges associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. NRF has urged Congress to focus on advancing long-term economic policies that would provide employers with the certainty they need to make strategic investment decisions and improve hiring opportunities for all workers.

“Raising the standard of living for low-skill, low-wage workers is a valid goal,” NRF senior VP for government relations David French said in a letter to the entire Senate. “But there is clear evidence that mandated wage hikes undermine the job prospects for less skilled and part-time workers. Policymakers have other tools, such as increasing the earned income tax credit, fixing the tax code, education improvements, immigration reform, transportation funding, and strong trade alliances that will aid in achieving that goal without creating more unemployment. Finding more opportunities for those trying to start out is a better economic approach than restricting the amount of jobs for those seeking employment.”

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