Obamacare limits student jobs

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The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare” has left BYU Faculty scrambling to comply with the unfamiliar law. Starting this year, part-time employees are not allowed to work over a 28-hours weekly average for any Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint entity.

New regulations state student employees may not work for two church affiliates simultaneously.

Deseret Mutual Benefit Association, healthcare provider for LDS church entities, recognizes all LDS entities as one company employer. Entities include BYU, BYU-I, Deseret Book, MTC, KSL, LDS Motion Pictures, Temple Square Hospitality, and roughly thirty more church affiliates.

Forrest Flake, Assistant Administrative Vice President of BYU Human Resrouces, said, “They have to treat all church entities like they’re one employer. So that means students can only work for one church entity at a time. This does not mean you cannot intern for Deseret Book over the summer, you can, but you cannot intern for Deseret Book and retain your on-campus job at the same time”.

In order for a student to work for BYU and KSL, the student must quit one job before beginning the other, even if a student worked below the 28 hour average. Wade Ashton, Manager of Student Employment, estimates roughly 200-300 students will be directly affected by the church entity rule.

“We have had to email students and ask them who they want to work for. They can’t work for both the MTC and student teach seminary,” Ashton said.

The students were then given ample time to choose. However, some students are dependent on these multiple jobs to meet their needs.

“It’s been really unfortunate for some students,” Ashton said. “Their ability to make as much income as they could has been limited”.

Though the full implementation of the healthcare law has been delayed one year, BYU and church affiliated organizations are following provisions this year. Flake predicts that the new provisions will have limited impact on student employment.

“We already have a Fall/Winter 20 hour work week policy,” says Flake. “There are very few exceptions to this. Most BYU part-time employees will not be greatly affected”.

Greg Danklef, BYU HR Area Consultant, says there are misconceptions about the law. Obamacare states any full-time employee must receive healthcare. Obamacare defines full-time as a 30 hour work week, ten hours less than what was previously considered full-time.

BYU policy allows students to work 20 hours or less during the school year, and 40 hours during summer terms, with few exceptions. Most students can still work 40 hours a week during holidays and Spring/Summer terms without exceeding the new 28 hour cap.

Average work hours are determined on a yearly basis each October. Starting Jan. 1, 2015, if an employee is eligible BYU must provide health insurance for the employee or face substantial penalty. This is not an entirely new policy to BYU.

“BYU has never offered medical benefits to part-time employees. We are simply continuing that policy now. Not too much should change for the student employees on that front,” Flake said.

“The number of students directly impacted will be small,” Danklef said. “Few students even worked a 40 hour work week through spring and summer”.

Most students averaged 14-20 hours a week during last Spring and Summer terms. Roughly 14,000 BYU students are employed and less than 100 worked 40 hours a week last summer.

“This would only affect students who worked excessive hours. Graduate students and three quarter-time employees will be the most affected,” Ashton says.

Graduate students were formally able to work 30 hours a week and 40 hours during spring and summer terms. Now graduate students will have a weekly average cap of 28 hours.

The new regulations mean managers have to monitor student hours more attentively. If a student violates the hour limit the students and supervisors are alerted. If a student continues to break the hour limit, his employment would be terminated.

“We don’t want to fire anyone. That’s an absolute last resort,” said Danklef. “I’d say worst case scenario you can’t work for six months”. After six months the student is listed as a new hire.

BYU and the LDS church have taken addition lengths to abide by the law. Though the Healthcare Act caps part-time employment at 30 hours a week, the LDS church caps part-time employment at 28 hours a week.

Ashton comments the vague nature of the law makes implementations difficult. There were few administrative guidelines upfront but he believes BYU has implemented the new law effectively.

“We are not trying to get around this law,” Danklef said, “We want to be compliant.”

But with compliance comes the necessary new single entity rule, placing more limits on student employment.

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