Bartholomew Co. May Limit Employee Hours To Cut Health Costs

Thirty to 40 part-time employees are facing the prospect of limited work hours because the county does not want to pay for their health care.

Bartholomew County Courthouse

Photo: Cindy Seigle (Flickr)

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers must provide health coverage to any employee working over 25 hours per week.

A vote on whether or not to curb the hours of part-time Bartholomew County workers faces an uncertain future after some in the community have spoken out against the plan.

County officials are proposing limiting workers to 25 hours a week in order to cut down on the county’s health care expenses, which is the threshold the Affordable Care Act sets as the maximum amount of work which may be done before employers are mandated to offer health coverage.

But at the Bartholomew County Council’s Tuesday meeting, Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann noted most bankruptcies are because of overwhelming health care costs, adding the measure could slam some long-time county workers.

“To me, it is a fairness issue to the employees who have been working here for significant period of time, and now suddenly their proposal to cut their hours back even further,  just to deny them with health insurance, and I just don’t believe that’s fair,” he says.

County Commissioner Carl Lienhoop says he is not sure what the change might mean for county employment, though.

“It will either cause us to have to hire more people if indeed the county council makes that 25 hours, it may take several more people to get the job done,” he says. “Or conversely we will reduce the employment by making more people work 40 hours and we will leave less people.”

Currently, anyone working fewer than 40 hours a week is considered part-time. It’s estimated that about 30 to 40 part-time employees in Bartholomew County will be impacted by the new policy.  But a vote on the change has been delayed indefinitely.

County Attorney Grant Tucker says it could be weeks or even months before the proposal is decided upon because of outcry from the community.

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