Sunday, March 24, 2013

ACE weighs in on Obamacare and adjunct faculty

IRS building on Constitution Avenue in Washing...
IRS building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi folks,
               A major group has weighed in with public comments to the IRS on the issue of adjunct faculty and the Affordable Care Act.  The American Council on Education submitted comments to the IRS this Monday on the issue of adjuncts and when they may be counted as full time employees under the Affordable Care Act. Essentially, the ACE has offered two alternative approaches for determining full time status of adjuncts. The first is a percentage approach. The letter to the IRS states:

Adjunct faculty should be classified as full time employees if the course load they teach meets or exceeds three-quarters of the course load for a full-time, non-tenure track (NTT) teaching faculty member in that academic department….. We urge the Department to adopt rules clarifying that institutions of higher education may classify adjunct faculty as full-time employees if the course load they teach meets or exceeds three-quarters of the course load for a full-time NTT teaching faculty member in a particular department. We also requests that the Department issue guidance clarifying that, in order to avail itself of this safe harbor, an institution of higher education must adopt in writing a uniform definition of “full time NTT teaching faculty member” tailored specifically to each academic department prior to the beginning of an academic year. In the alternative, this definition could be made for the institution as a whole rather than specifically for each academic department.”

The second approach is the ratio of hours approach. The ACE states in the letter:

“A second method of calculating the total hours worked by adjunct faculty would be to credit adjunct faculty members with one hour of work outside the classroom for each hour teaching in the classroom. Although this approach could in some cases misrepresent actual hours worked, depending on the specifics of a given course, it provides a reasonable approximation as well as predictability and ease of administration, and is supported by at least one self-reporting study. [Digest of Education Statistics]. A one-to-one ration of outside classroom work to teaching hours is the most accurate estimate because it reflects assumptions, practices and data found at many institutions of higher education. “

The ACE alternatives would result in the following examples. If the percentage approach were adopted, and if an institution has a full time non tenure track lecturer regularly teaching 12 credits a semester, then an adjunct would be deemed as full time once she or he is regularly assigned 9 credit hours over the measuring period.   If the one for one rule were adopted, then an adjunct would not be deemed full time until she or he taught 15 credit hours per semester on a regular basis over the measuring period. (As you remember, the AFT proposed a 2:1 ratio such that an adjunct regularly teaching 10 credits would be deemed full time).

                The IRS will consider all these approaches as they formulate their final regulations.

Best to you all,
Nicholas DiGiovanni, Jr., Esq.
Morgan, Brown & Joy
200 State Street
Boston, MA 02109 
Attorney Client Privileged

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