The Affordable Care Act and part time employment

June 1, 2013

Darci Slaten Aravaipa

…thanks to Darci Slaten for this picture…

One of the most gifted undergraduate students I’ve had in a Penn State health communication classroom is crossing her fingers that she will get a job she has interviewed for. I am hopeful for her as well. An odd thing about the job is that it is for less than 30 hours a week. I also have a nephew who recently started a new job at a sandwich shop. He loves the work. And he too is being employed for less than 30 hours a week. Neither was looking for part time work. And it does make me wonder. Could it be the Affordable Care Act’s rule that companies with 50 or more employees be required to provide health insurance to employees–except if they work less than 30 hours a week.

I don’t know the answer to this question. I haven’t talked to my nephew’s employer and the question doesn’t fit into a conversation as a reference for a former student. I do wonder about risk data relating to part time employees and projecting the cost for health care.

State laws covering workmen compensation do cover part time employees. If my nephew is hurt on the job–let’s say, for example, cuts off the tip of his finger with a meat slicer or gets a hand caught under a heavy bread tray and breaks a finger–workmen’s compensation will require his employer to pay the medical costs related to the accident and cover wages for the time he cannot work. So, that is a relief. But what it won’t cover is time off or care for the flu or a bad cold.

Looking at the issue from a public health and public good perspective: Do we unintentionally incentivize ill workers to come to work when we adopt policies that won’t cover their care or give sick leave benefits? Do we pose other risks  to the public besides exposure to ill workers when we move toward part time employment, risks associated with the experience one gains from being on a job full time, for example?

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One Response to “The Affordable Care Act and part time employment”

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