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DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARTICLE: Sinclair will cut worker hours

By Meagan Pant

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-, May 15, 2013 | comments

Sinclair Community College will cut the hours that can be worked by part-time employees and adjunct professors to avoid a looming change in federal law that could require the college to provide those workers health insurance.

Sinclair’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a policy limiting part-time employees to 28 hours per week, down from 30, and restricting adjunct faculty to 11 credit hours in a semester, down from 14, according to Sinclair.

The change will ensure that part-time workers who currently do not receive health insurance from Sinclair continue to be ineligible when a new requirement in the Patient

Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. At that time, employers with 50 or more workers will be required to provide health care benefits to full-time employees, defined as those working 30 hours or more per week.

The penalty for not complying is as much as $2,000 per employee.

Sinclair’s new policy ensures “that work is in the provisions of the law,” said Trustee Beth Whelley. “And a very important part is to maintain college-wide budget neutral application of this element,” she said.

Sinclair did not have an estimate for how many workers will be impacted by the change in hours that can be worked. The college previously said it has 191 adjuncts who could qualify for health care, as well as 160 hourly staffers, 14 supplemental faculty retirees and 58 who are both adjunct and part-time hourly workers. On Tuesday, the college said the number of people affected by the change would be much lower.

Sinclair estimated it would cost $10,000 per employee to provide health insurance. The college does offer health care to full-time employees and 769 are currently enrolled, according to Sinclair.

The passage of the new policy, which was developed by a 21-member committee, makes Sinclair among the first colleges in Ohio to announce how it will address the looming “Play or Pay” provision. The IRS has not yet published final regulations relating to Obamacare, according to Sinclair, and there remains much confusion about how adjunct faculty should be treated under the new requirement.

Clark State Community College, Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati are still evaluating the issue, according to the schools. Other schools, such as the University of Dayton, which has a more generous policy for providing health care than required by the Affordable Care Act, will not be impacted.

More than 1.35 million of Ohio’s non-elderly residents are uninsured, or about 14 percent of that population, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.A committee at Sinclair will set guidelines to ensure workers are complying with the new requirement, according to the college.