Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(PPACA), community colleges will now have to determine whether adjunct faculty work enough hours to be considered eligible for health insurance benefits.
Through the new law, full-time employees (FTEs) at community colleges are entitled to a prescribed set of insurance benefits for a limited cost (no greater than 9.5 percent of their monthly earnings). FTEs are defined as employees who work at least 30 hours a week in a given month.
Most full-time, full-year faculty would be considered FTEs, but whether adjunct faculty should be treated as FTEs depends on their particular circumstances. In some cases, colleges choose to cap the amount of courses an adjunct may teach in a given year, thus creating a clear line between FTEs and part-time adjunct faculty who work less than 30 hours a week.
At colleges that don’t limit the number of courses taught by adjuncts, however, it could be much harder to determine whether they are FTEs and thus eligible for benefits under the PPACA.
In some cases, colleges are not certain at the beginning of the academic year how many courses a given adjunct will work. If when hiring an adjunct, the college cannot determine whether the adjunct will meet the 30-hour weekly average, the IRS considers that person a “variable-hour” employee.
Under IRS rules, employers must use a measurement period to determine whether variable-hour employees should be considered FTEs. The measurement period can vary between three and 12 months; it’s up to the employer’s discretion. <Read more.>