The Affordable Care Act (2010), sometimes referred to as the
ACA or Obamacare, was enacted to create healthcare reform in the United
States. Because the law ties health
insurance benefits directly to full time employment status, concerns have been
raised over the definition of a full time employee. Traditionally in the field of orientation,
transition, and retention, institutions of all types and sizes have enlisted
student workers to support our activities.
Many of these student positions have sporadic increases in their hours
that temporarily reach 40 hours or more a week, the traditional designation of
full time status. From Orientation
Leaders to Peer Mentors, these students are critically important to achieving
our goals by offering additional staffing hours and by the intangible positive
impact the peer-to-peer interaction has with students in transition. These positions are not going to be
eliminated, but how we manage them at our institutions may need to be modified
so that this model does not become cost prohibitive.
This statement is intended to identify what the ACA and its
regulatory agency, the Internal Revenue Service, explicitly requires, as well
as identifying areas that you should seek assistance from your campus Human
Resource Office or legal counsel. Please
remember this is not intended to be an exhaustive list nor is NODA attempting
to be an authoritative voice on the subject.
Instead, the goal of this statement is to be a primer so that you have some of the background knowledge to engage in thorough conversations with
your campus partners who are the experts. Please keep in mind that local,
state, and institutional policies may affect how the ACA is interpreted on your
campus. Please consult with your
Human Resources at your institution before making any major staffing decision.
What factors are
explicitly considered in the designation as Full-Time status?
In order to be considered as full time, an employee must:
Work 30 hours or more a week for an extended
period of time
An extended period of time is determined by the
employer and may be not less than three months, and no more than 1 year
Work Study positions at an institution will not
count toward the 30 hour per week for the purposes of determining an employer’s
responsibility for offering insurance coverage
What factors are
unclear with how they affect designation as Full-Time status?
It is unclear how training opportunities that
are required for a position but are educational in nature (i.e. credit earning
Leadership Training classes) is counted in this total
It is unclear how "on-call” time is counted
where student must be available but is not necessarily working
Time from volunteers is not counted, but is
unclear where limits are set as to what level stipends and other compensations
would change the designation from volunteer to employee
you should ask Human Resources as you build your student-staffing plan:
What affect will it have if your student staff is
allowed to work other campus jobs? And
are there any areas on campus that are a different entity that the IRS does not
consider them to be the same employer (i.e. University Foundation)?
What is the maximum hours per week does your
institution allow a student to work? Is
that maximum for any given week or averaged over an extended period?
If your student workers haven’t traditionally
tracked their time, do you need to start tracking time?
For more information:
Please review the following references: