By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
Part-time employees with Tipton County will be taking home smaller paychecks starting July 1 after the county council voted to lower the maximum number of hours worked to 28 per week.
The action was taken in response to portions of the federal Affordable Care Act that take effect Jan. 1. The federal health care law designates full-time employment for the purpose of providing health insurance benefits a 30 hour or more work week. Currently, full-time employment is set by individual companies and ranges from 35 to 40 hours per week.
Part-time Tipton County employees are permitted to work up to 32 hours per week now. Salaries range from minimum wage, which is $7.25, up to $11.25 depending on the county office or department where they work. Minimum wage employees will see a reduction of $29 per week or $1,508 per year and at the highest pay level the reduction will be $45 per week or $2,340 a year.
Doug Heath with Regents Insurance said Tipton County needs to begin tracking the hours worked by the part-time employees immediately. He said with the ACA starting Jan. 1, the federal government will track hours from July 1 through the end of the year.
“The county can avoid penalties by providing insurance to all full-time employees,” Heath said.
The council directed all department heads and elected officials to report part-time hours to the Tipton County Auditor’s office on a weekly basis.
The new 28-hour limit for part-time employees will require a change in the county’s employee handbook.
In other business
The council approved an appropriation of $14,800 over the next three years for off-site data storage.
Councilman James Powell asked what would happen to the county’s computer data if there were a fire in the courthouse or a lightning strike?
Bill Steen, director of the Information Technology department, said the data could be lost and would have to be recreated.
Currently only computers in the health and sheriff’s departments have back-up capabilities.
Steen said the contract with Barracuda is for unlimited storage for three years and instant replacement. He said the data is double encrypted when sent to off-site storage and is password protected.
“Basically we’re one lightening strike away from losing the data,” he said.
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