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Orientation Professional’s Need to Know about the Affordable Care Act

Wednesday, February 11, 2015   (0 Comments)
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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

Possible questions 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:

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