Henderson workers to feel impact from Obamacare

Jul. 25, 2013 @ 07:55 PM

Part-time and temporary workers in Henderson are going to feel the effects of the city’s compliance with the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

During a work session earlier this week, the City Council began movement to update employment ordinances. The changes are likely to come to the council for a formal vote.

The requirement for businesses with 50 or more workers to provide insurance to their workers or be penalized was delayed until 2015 earlier this month. Under the new law, part-time workers are considered working no more than 30 hours.

The city is just one of many businesses looking at part-time employees who work near or more than 30 hours.

Among the changes already agreed in principle during the work session, council members said department leaders would be held accountable for workers staying within classification of part-time or temporary.

“This is a cost avoidance mechanism,” said Ray Griffin, the city manager. “The Affordable Care Act as approved will require that part-time employees who average more than 30 hours of work each week be provided medical insurance.”

Cathy Brown, the city human resources director, delivered an outline of proposed ordinance changes. One clarification is that part-time hours must be cut back from current levels. In some cases, part-timers are averaging 35 hours a week throughout the year.

The Obamacare federal guideline, she said, prohibits part-timers and temporary employees from working more than 1,000 hours in a calendar year. The city ordinance scheduling guidelines need to be put in place that reflect the 1,000-hour cut-off level.

“We need to be prepared now, because if we are not, we could be hit with some real serious budget issues,” Brown said.

Brown said the recommendation is for scheduling of part-time workers to be set at no more than 28 hours.

Brown noted differences between part-time and temporary designations handed down by the new federal rules.

“If the average ranges to more than 30 hours per week for more than a 6-month period, then it is full-time,” Brown said. “If the employee works less than six months, it is considered as temporary or seasonal employment.”

In both cases, the 1,000-hour upper limit stands on keeping the employee from full-time status, and therefore keeping the city from the added liability to pay more by hiring them on with the required healthcare benefits or be penalized if found not in compliance.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com