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Science Careers Blog

December 6, 2012

Clarification Needed for Adjunct Healthcare Issues

We recently reported on the lack of health insurance coverage for many of the nation's adjunct faculty members (40% of America's higher education teacher force.)  With the impending implementation of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), the issue is becoming more complicated, Inside Higher Ed reports.

The new law requires employers to provide healthcare coverage, or pay a tax, for full-time employees, defined as those working 30 hours a week or more.  Some institutions have begun preemptively limiting the hours adjuncts can teach, to keep them out of the full time pool.  Some observers believe those steps are premature; the rules institutions should use to determine how many hours a faculty member works "[aren't] fully defined yet," according to Craig Smith, director of higher education of the American Federation of Teachers, quoted in the article.  Does the total include only instruction hours? Advising and office hours?  Preparation time?  How should the law account for "part-time" adjuncts who spend more time in the classroom than faculty members considered full time?

As consternation--and caps on adjunct hours--spread in academe, the U.S. Treasury Department, with advice from teachers unions and, presumably, other interested parties, is studying the issue.  It will be issuing regulations to guide employers by the end of the year, the article states.

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