Association to Universities: Give Adjunct Professors Health Insurance

With Affordable Care Act regulations soon to take effect, many businesses have considered cutting hours for part-time workers to limit the number of employees they must cover under their health plans. One higher education group has warned universities not to go down this road.

With the mandates of the Affordable Care Act to go into effect in January, many employers are struggling with the implications the law has for part-time employees, to whom they must provide health insurance if those workers clock more than 30 hours per week. Some employers are beginning to make moves to reduce the hours their part-timers work to avoid the ACA’s coverage requirement.

Colleges and universities should realize the importance of providing health insurance to employees.

But a group that represents a significant number of part-time employees nationwide says those employers should be going the other way.

The American Association of University Professors has taken a strong stance against cutting hours for part-time instructors at colleges and universities, who make up more than half of all faculty members.

“Colleges and universities should realize the importance of providing health insurance to employees,” AAUP said in a policy statement. “We call on them to comply with the law and devise fair methods of calculating adjunct faculty hours, methods that fully take into account the many activities in which such faculty members engage.”

In the statement, the group threw its support behind standards being developed by the Internal Revenue Service that would address how an adjunct professor’s work hours are calculated. The IRS said those standards would not be reasonable if they counted “only classroom or instruction time and not other hours that are necessary to perform the employee’s duties, such as class-preparation time.”

So why is the organization taking a position now? Because the issue is starting to surface at multiple schools.

According to The Huffington Post, at least two schools have made moves in this direction: Florida’s Daytona State College, which is limiting adjuncts to nine hours per week due to unspecified “new laws,” and Illinois’ Oakton Community College, which now plans to count noninstructional hours as part of an employee’s time but will limit part-time employees to 21 hours per week.

Virginia’s College of William & Mary plans to implement a similar change, according to its student newspaper, The Flat Hat.

The adjunct professor issue is just one element in a larger, hotly debated political battle. Some owners of businesses that rely heavily on part-time employees, particularly franchisees of national restaurant chains such as Applebee’s and Denny’s, have drawn controversy with public statements criticizing the ACA and suggesting that they will cut worker hours or raise prices in order to meet its requirements.

In at least one case, the CEO of a major franchise-based restaurant chain, Jimmy John’s founder Jimmy John Liautaud, suggested such cuts would happen within his chain. “We’re not doing it now, but we have to bring them down to 28 hours. Yes, we have to do that,” he said on Fox News in October. “There’s no other way we can survive it, because we think it will cost us 50 cents a sandwich. That’s just the actual cost.”

In a September 2011 report, the International Franchise Association suggested that the law could add as much as $6.4 billion in costs for franchisees.



Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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