Monday, August 18, 2014

Obamacare Revives an Old Question: Are Student Workers Employees?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 18th, 2014

Myron McDonald, 20, has a 2-year-old son, an off-campus apartment, and a tuition bill commensurate with his full-time course load at La Sierra University, a private institution in Southern California affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
He had a full-time job in the cafeteria to help him shoulder those expenses, until a university rule established in February limited student employees to no more than 25 hours of work a week during the academic year. Now, as fall approaches, he’s hustling to find an off-campus job and worrying about how the new policy might restrict his family’s budget.
"I don’t want to have my son say, ‘Daddy, I need this,’ and I can’t be the one to provide it for him," says Mr. McDonald, who makes the state minimum wage of $9 an hour. "I would feel like I’m not a good father."
La Sierra is one of many colleges that have capped on-campus work hours in recent months. The reason: the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Beginning in 2015, the law will require businesses with more than 99 employees to provide health insurance to at least 70 percent of their workers who log 30 hours a week or more. That number jumps to 95 percent in 2016. In anticipation of this mandate and its costs, a number of colleges are scrambling to keep student workers—undergraduate and graduate—under the 30-hour threshold, leaving some, like Mr. McDonald, in the lurch.

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