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Part-Time Labor and the Affordable Care Act

UPDATE: Part-Time Labor and the Affordable Care Act


By October 1, 2013, all employees should get a notice from their employer that explains the healthcare exchanges/marketplaces they can participate in as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. As of October, those without insurance should be able to pre-enroll in these marketplace options. If someone would like insurance beginning January 2014, they will be required to enroll by December 15, 2013. Here is an online calculator that can help estimate healthcare costs on the marketplace.   


In 2014, every individual will need to have qualifying health coverage. There is a safe harbor in the first months of 2014, but individuals who do not have qualifying health coverage after March will be assessed a fine, the greater of $95 or 1% of gross income. Exceptions will be made for very low income individuals.


Initially, the individual mandate and employer mandates would have both occurred in 2014. However, the employer mandate has been delayed until 2015. Starting in January 2015, employers will need to provide an affordable, minimum value, health benefit to all employees that work over 30 hours a week. A common employer response to this forthcoming policy was to announce a severe reduction of part-time hours; this in turn generated many scheduling issues in terms of limiting the flexibility of part time labor. However, this is putting the cart before the horse, as many employers have not indicated what type of look-back policy they would establish to determine whether an individual met the 30 hour per week average. ACA mandates that if an employee exceeds 30 hours a week in a look-back period, that individual will be provided coverage in the following look-back.

Now, we have over a year to discuss what our employer’s look-back policy should be. A three month look-back period over school months will create one set of employees who will get healthcare, while longer periods, six months to a year, might lessen the number of part-timers exceeding a 30 hour per week average. In addition, when these periods start and begin would also create different models of coverage. We believe that all employees should be a part of a conversation about their employer’s look-back and that collectively we can produce a model that complies with the ACA and sustains employee hours and employer scheduling flexibility. 

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