The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” is expected to bring changes to the county’s work force.
The county commission Monday met to discuss changes that are coming as the new law gets implemented.
One of the bigger impacts will be to part-time, temporary workers that the county uses.
Under the new healthcare law, workers are required to have health insurance if they work 30 hours a week or more.
This means the county may scale back the temporary workers’ hours to 27 per week to avoid paying them health insurance.
Many of those employees work in the highway department during the summer and the tax collector’s office later in the year.
“This is going to dramatically affect how they can do business if we have to cut their hours down,” said Lisa Trentmann, county human resources/payroll clerk.
For instance, Trentmann said temporary employees in the highway department work 40-hour weeks until they reach their maximum number of hours of 1,000 a year.
However, if the workers’ hours are scaled back, then it would mean it would take two employees to do the work that has been handled by one.
Having two workers instead of one can cause unemployment claims against the county to go up, Trentmann said.
Once the county runs out of hours it can offer temporary workers, they can file for unemployment.
“Everyone of them is going to file for it,” Trentmann said. “We will not win it. Because we don’t have work for them, we’re going to lose the unemployment claims.”
Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz said he was surprised to hear that this happens.
County Counselor Mark Vincent said the commissioners must decide which is a cheaper option — hiring two employees and not paying health insurance or keeping one employee and paying the health insurance.
“It’s not an easy choice,” Vincent said.
Work Force Review
First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said the county must analyze its work force needs.
“Do the warm bodies truly need to exist where they exist and for the purposes of serving the tax base accordingly,” Brinker said. “There are some out there that believe one way and some out there that believe another.”
This could lead to the county outsourcing some work, Brinker added.
The Affordable Care Act is going to cost a lot of people their jobs across the country, Vincent said.
Schatz agreed, saying many employers are looking at the same issues the county is facing.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the county is only required to offer employees who work 30 hours or more health insurance, not eye and dental benefits, Trentmann said.
But Vincent said some people are arguing that employers also are required to offer eye and dental care as well, since those deal with a person’s health.
The commissioners plan to meet with Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke and Collector of Revenue Linda Emmons to discuss the new law’s impact on their employees.