Friday, June 28 2013, 01:08 PM MDT
Granite School District Caps Part-Time Hours, Cites Affordable Care Act
By Christine McCarthy
(KUTV) Mindy Mayhew usually works 19 hours per week as a part-time human resources secretary at Granite School District.
“I have a small child. I live on my own. I'm trying to do things by myself,” Mayhew, single mother of two-year-old Kaia, said.
Often she racks up far more hours, but a new letter sent to about 5,000 hourly employees at Granite limits those hours.
“Now I have 29 hours that I'm capped out at, that I cannot go above and beyond,” Mayhew said. “I'm trying to stay off of Medicaid and food stamps, things like that, but this makes it utterly impossible.”
Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said the difficult decision to cap part-time hours is because the Affordable Care Act mandates that businesses with more than 50 workers offer health insurance to those who work 30 or more hours.
“With new provisions in the Affordable Care Act, there was going to be a significant burden upon Granite School District and our taxpayers to offset the cost of benefits,” Horsley said. “That’s about $14 million in new money that we’re not going to get, to cover these hourly employees that currently work more than 30 hours a week.”
So Granite reduced the number of hours part-time “classified employees” can work from 30 to 29. Those hourly employees include playground aids, reading specialists, bus drivers and very few substitute teachers, according to Horsley.
The 30-hour employees “don't currently receive benefits now, so nobody's losing any benefits,” Horsley said. “But at the same time this will impact some of our employees."
About 800 will lose an hour of work and 150 to 200 will lose more than an hour, Horsley.
Granite isn't alone. Many local school districts and businesses are handling what they call a big price tag for health reform in much the same way.
About 40 part-time non-teacher classified employees at Nebo School District will see their hours capped at 28.75 per week, said Nebo School District public information officer Lana Hiskey.
"I'll no longer accrue sick time or personal time or vacation time, and I won't have the option to buy benefits," said bus driver Dan Kirk. "It's a breakdown of being able to support one's family when you've been relying on something for so long."
At Nebo, those part-time workers had been able to buy benefits through a pilot program that started four years ago, according to Hiskey, but now that option is gone.
Both Horsley and Hiskey said the districts did their best to minimize the impacts on both the employees and the students.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcast Group)