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The state’s community college system will be affected more than any other agency, a state survey found.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
RICHMOND — Thousands of part-time state workers are being told they’ll be allowed to work no more than 29 hours a week going forward.
The reason: The federal Affordable Care Act requires that employees working 30 hours a week or more receive health care benefits — which would cost Virginia tens of millions of dollars a year.
The new policy will mean a pay cut for many part-timers, including adjunct college professors.
The 29-hour limit is on its way to becoming state law, thanks to language inserted into the state budget at the request of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration. The language appears in both versions of the budget adopted Thursday by the Senate and House of Delegates.
The language limits wage employees — the state’s term for those paid by the hour — in all branches of state government to an average of 29 hours a week over the course of a year.
Anticipating legislative approval of the policy, the state Department of Human Resource Management has advised all state agencies to implement it now.
The state has more than 37,000 wage employees. More than 7,000 of them have been working at least 30 hours a week, according to a recent survey taken by the department.
Providing basic health care benefits to those workers and their dependents would cost the state as much as $110 million a year, the department estimates.
Hardest hit by the new policy will be Virginia’s 23 two-year community colleges, which collectively employ more part-timers working 30-plus hours a week than any other state agency, according to the survey.
“It affects us in a big way,” said Jeffrey Kraus , a spokesman for the Virginia Community College System.
Paul Logan , a spokesman for McDonnell, said the policy will apply to adjunct faculty — instructors who are paid a flat fee per course taught.
Some adjunct teachers carry the rough equivalent of a full-time course load. For them, the new policy might mean up to a one-third cut in pay.
Josh Meyer is a spokesman for Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke. The campus was closed Friday, so he was unable to obtain specific numbers of adjunct faculty employed by the college.
“One of the great advantages of community colleges like Virginia Western is that we can agilely adapt the training and educational needs of the region. Our adjunct faculty gives us the flexibility to create new courses as the need arises. This new policy will limit the hours that such faculty can teach,” he wrote in an email.
Staff writer Annie McCallum contributed to this report.
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