By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — Another local government agency is planning to cut part-time employee hours in order to avoid having to provide them with health insurance.
Howard County joins Tipton and Miami counties in reducing the number of hours that a part-time employee can work. A provision in the Affordable Care Act, which is being challenged by several Indiana school districts and the state, requires employers with more than 50 workers to provide health insurance to anyone working more than 30 hours a week or face a fine.
The Obama administration delayed implementation of the mandate until 2014.
The Howard County Commissioners on Oct. 7 approved a revision to the employee handbook that spells out what is considered full-time employment and states part-time employees will be allowed to work no more than 28 hours per week.
Currently the only part-time employees working for Howard County who are eligible for health insurance coverage are contract professionals, including the attorneys in the Howard County prosecutor’s office or who work as a public defender.
The revision in the handbook policy makes those employees ineligible for county health insurance.
Wanda McKillip, administrator for the county’s personnel department, said the number of part-time employees who will have their hours reduced is unknown.
She said each department head receive a form to complete with each employees status in terms of hours worked.
The revision specifies the following:
• Full-time employees are those who work 35 hours or more per week.
• An exception was made for correction officer, dispatcher and Kinsey Center trainees who are hired on temporary training status and could be assigned to work a full or part time shift. That status remains in effect for one year and after that time if they are not hired on a full-time basis will have their hours reduced to 28 in any given week.
• Full-time employees not covered by a public retirement plan who work more than 30 hours per week for the county will be eligible to receive health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
• Seasonal employees are those who work up to 120 days per year and are not eligible for county employee benefits including vacation, holiday and sick pay. They are not eligible to receive health insurance through the county.