November 22, 2013
Scores of adjunct faculty at dozens of colleges returned to campus this fall to find significantly lighter course loads and smaller paychecks.
More than 200 schools, mostly public community colleges, have slashed the hours of adjuncts and employees off the tenure track to avoid the expense of meeting full-time benefit requirements, under the Affordable Care Act, according to Adjunct Nation.
Universities and colleges across the nation, which have increasingly relied on adjuncts as a cheap source of labor, are keeping these instructors in purgatory while they weigh their options of whether to restrict the hours they are allowed to work to avoid providing them with healthcare benefits.
Adjunct faculty now make up a majority of the higher education instructors nationwide. Most adjuncts work without benefits, at an average of $2,900 per course, according to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). That’s one-fourth of what tenure-track professors earn.
In an effort to level the playing field, groups of adjuncts are increasingly joining unions in an effort to ward off cuts in already low hours, wages & benefits.
The questions remain:Are colleges facing risks for reducing employee hours to avoid paying benefits? How do colleges assess the hours worked by part-time staff? What models are being used to assess employee hours? How does the ACA impact adjunct faculty? Covered or not? What’s the best healthcare track for adjuncts?
The questions of how the ACA will affect adjunct faculty arise at a time when the whole nation is preparing for the changes that will be brought about with the ACA. While the political world dwells in controversies surrounding the law, the world of higher education must be prepared for all eventualities. Adjunct professors already face a great many challenges. If the Obamacare prevents adjuncts from being able to work full-time and possibly derail some from the tenure track, adjuncts and other part-timers need to evaluate their options.
Learn more about how the ACA will impact your college’s adjunct faculty and your institution as a whole by joining ACA expert Susan Steelman in an upcoming webinar entitled “Navigating the ACA in Higher Ed: Adjuncts, Part-Time Faculty & More“ on Thursday, December 5, 2012 at 1:00 PM EST.