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Gainesville, Hall governments work to control overtime

Health care law forces tighter rein on employees’ hours

POSTED: August 3, 2014 12:30 a.m.

Hall County and Gainesville are finding most part-time workers now are complying with a new policy that limits the number of hours they can work each week.

“Overall, it’s been very good compliance,” said Hall County Human Resources Director Bill Moats.

But a few slip-ups remain as local governments prepare for the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate to take effect in January.

“Staying within the 30-hour limit under the Affordable Care Act has definitely been challenging for several of our departments that use part-time employees,” said Gainesville Human Resources Director Janeann Allison.

The ACA requires employers to provide health insurance for any employee who works 30 hours a week or more, with stiff penalties for noncompliance.

But medical coverage for a single county employee, for example, costs more than $10,000 annually, an expense officials have said they can’t afford for part-time workers.

Meanwhile, providing health insurance for city workers costs between $6,400 for a single employee and up to $16,600 for family coverage.

The mandate includes a look-back period that requires employers to report the amount of hours part-time workers are now logging, effectively making the law retroactive.

The ACA calls for a $2,000 annual fine per employee if insurance is not offered to eligible workers.

Tax Commissioner Darla Eden struggled to get her office in compliance after regularly breaking the policy.

“Before the conversion of part-time funding to three full-time positions, we struggled to maintain the approved and budgeted 32-hour per person as originally adopted in the fiscal year 2014 budget,” she said. “Then when the county requested the 28 hours per person implementation for part-time employees per the Affordable Care Act ... we were truly taxed to provide minimum coverage at the windows and call center for our residents.”

According to Moats, Eden’s office exceeded the part-time hours limit each week in March, April and May.

But Eden’s office stayed under the limit each week between June 15 and July 12, thanks largely to the new full-time positions.

“We are able now to provide minimal coverage of current services ... as well as stabilize our workforce,” Eden said. “We have gained efficiencies in our office in the past year that will help cover the gap in coverage due to budgetary and Affordable Care Act constraints.”

But other county departments find they sometimes break the limit.

Workers in the parks and animal control departments are the next biggest violators.

Moats said big events and festivals can sometimes force the parks department’s hand in this regard.

“Popping up on the list on occasion is OK if it’s hit or miss,” he added.

Meanwhile, the reduction in hours for Gainesville’s part-time workers has meant additional hiring to fill the gap.

“We have had to hire additional part-time help to compensate for the lost hours of the current employees in ... recreation, golf course and Hall Area Transit,” Allison said.



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