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Under the Affordable Care Act (PPACA), who’s required to track hours, and where do they track time?

Variable hour non‐exempt employees already track worked hours and will continue to do so.

Variable hour non‐teaching exempt employees (both staff and academics that are not fully benefit eligible) should record actual worked hours using a non‐pay time reporting code in the time reporting system. Instructions on how to record hours can be found at http://www.umsystem.edu/apps/is/ps-training/upgrade9.1/PlayerFiles_HourlyTR/toc0.html. Partial hours should be rounded to the nearest half hour (i.e., 15 minutes or over round up to the next half hour and under 15 minutes round down to the previous half hour).

Variable hour teaching academic appointments quantify time worked using an equivalency of 3 1/3 hours worked for each credit hour taught. This methodology is used to determine their full-time equivalent (FTE). No action is required on the part of the individual. The FTE is entered by the department. This methodology should be applied regardless of the time period of which the class is taught (i.e., 8 weeks versus 16 weeks).

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Under PPACA, am I required to track hours for jobs worked outside of the university?

No, variable-hour employees do not have to track hours worked outside of the university.

The requirement is to track hours worked for the employer. Therefore, the university only has to track the hours that a variable hour employee works at the university. But if an employee works more than one job for the university, the UM System will track hours for all of those jobs.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Does the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) teaching equivalency apply to all types of courses?

Yes. This equivalency (3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught) will be used for classroom credit courses, online courses, and courses taught by Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs).

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What’s the penalty if the university doesn’t comply with Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requirements?

To comply with Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the UM System must offer medical coverage to at least 95% of employees that average 30 hours per week or more. Not meeting this requirement will incur a penalty based on all benefit-eligible employees, which could be as much as $39,000,000 for UM.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What HR policies have changed as a result of the PPACA?

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Will the PPACA teaching equivalency adjust based on the number of students enrolled in the course?

No. The teaching equivalency for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), 3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught, will remain the same regardless of the number of enrolled students.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Do cross-listed credit courses affect the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) teaching equivalency?

No. The teaching equivalency is 3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught. Since the course is a single course, the individual would receive 3 1/3 hours worked for each course credit hour.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, how should FTE be calculated when a course is shared by professors?

To calculate the full-time equivalency (FTE) for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), follow the agreed upon methodology of 3 1/3 worked hours per each credit hour taught for the course, and prorate the worked hours among the multiple professors based on the distribution of teaching effort.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What is the teaching equivalency for courses taught on less than a 16-week standard semester?

The teaching equivalency for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), 3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught, remains the same: 1 credit hour taught equals 3 1/3 worked hours, regardless of the time period the class covers.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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How should employees with both teaching and non-teaching assignments record hours under PPACA?

For the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), employees that have both teaching and non‐teaching responsibilities (e.g., a part‐time academic employee who teaches classes and also works in a research lab), use the full-time equivalency (FTE) to determine the hours worked. The FTE should include the credit given using the teaching equivalency(3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught), as well as a reasonable estimation of the hours spent doing non‐teaching assignments.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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How should hours for teaching clinical courses be tracked under the Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?

Hours worked in a clinical setting should be tracked in the same manner as a variable-hour, non‐teaching exempt employee by recording actual worked hours using a non‐pay time reporting code in the time reporting system.

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Is there a specific set of job codes that fall into teaching academics?

There is some work being done on academic titles, so it may be possible in the future, but at this time there is no consistent way to distinguish a teaching academic from a non‐teaching academic by title alone. The same title has been used for both teaching and non‐teaching roles, as well as for both fully benefit-eligible and non‐benefit-eligible positions.

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Why is “full-time equivalency (FTE)” not an accurate way to determine medical eligibility?

While full-time equivalency (FTE) is currently reported in job data, using FTE does not meet one of the safe harbor methods for tracking hours. The three safe harbor methods are (a) track actual hours, (b) days worked equivalency – credit eight hours worked for any day in which the employee works one hour, or (c) weeks worked equivalency – credit 40 hours worked for any week in which the employee works one hour. Using FTE for teaching academics is appropriate because it is based on an agreed upon documented methodology which is being applied consistently as allowed by the regulations.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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How do departments ensure time entered by variable-hour, exempt, non-teaching employees is accurate?

Reports are being provided to departments to allow reconciliation of the full-time equivalency (FTE) in the PeopleSoft HR system with the time recorded by variable-hour exempt employees in the time reporting system.

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Must supervisors approve the time that variable-hour, exempt, non-teaching employees enter?

No. The time entry for variable-hour, exempt employees is required in order to meet the “proof of hours worked” requirement under PPACA; it does not determine what an employee is paid. Reports are provided to departments on a monthly basis to allow them to review the hours worked that the employee enters into time-reporting and reconcile that with the full-time equivalency (FTE) listed for the employee in the HR system.

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How does the department verify hours for PPACA if supervisors are not required to approve hours?

For the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), reports will be provided to the departments to allow them to reconcile the full-time equivalency (FTE) in the Peoplesoft HR system with the recorded hours in the time reporting system. Remember that tracking the hours worked is to determine whether an individual is eligible to be offered medical coverage and does not determine pay or the workforce needs of the department. It is the departments’ responsibility to manage staffing.

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How often should the full-time equivalency (FTE) be adjusted to reflect actual hours worked?

Reports will be provided monthly, and the FTE in PeopleSoft should be averaged over the measurement period.

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How many hours are student employees allowed to work?

Because education is the primary relationship of students to the university, students should average no more than 28 worked hours per week in a 12-month measurement period (October 4 through October 3). Please refer to Chapter 320.050: Employee Status in the university’s Collected Rules and Regulations and HR Policy 204: Graduate and Undergraduate Student Titles, or your campus specific guidelines (campus policy may be more restrictive). An individual who is expected to average more than 30 hours per week should be placed in a staff or academic title.

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Under the PPACA, how should Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) track actual hours?

Because the work performed by GRAs is partially for work purposes and partially for educational purposes, there is more work to be done in determining how to track hours for GRAs. More information will be forthcoming as we continue to work with the Graduate Student leadership. At this time, GRAs are not required to record actual hours in the time reporting system.

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What’s changing with health care reform and/or Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?

Included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (health care reform) is a mandate for employers to offer medical coverage to employees who average 30 hours or more across all jobs over a defined measurement period.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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How are hours quantified for those currently paid for a unit of work?

The use of unit pay should be eliminated if possible because it is difficult to programmatically track actual hours worked for purposes of determining medical insurance eligibility. This includes the practice of processing additional pay forms for one‐time assignments completed by variable-hour employees in a concurrent position. Please contact your campus HR office if you believe you need to continue to use unit pay for any jobs in your area.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, are there any changes for fully benefit-eligible employees?

No, there are no changes for employees who are already fully benefit eligible (.75 full-time equivalency (FTE) and at least a 9 month appointment). The information regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) measurement period applies to variable hour employees (part‐time) who do not currently receive benefits.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What is a “measurement period” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?

The term “measurement period” indicates a time frame for the employer to look back to determine if an employee met the 30-hour requirement. The university evaluates variable-hour employees only; fully benefit-eligible employees are eligible for medical insurance by definition and therefore do not need measurement.

There are two types of measurement periods: (a) new-hire measurement periods and (b) ongoing measurement periods. See the “medical insurance eligibility” webpage to read the definitions.

The first ongoing measurement period for the University of Missouri (UM) System was October 4, 2013, through October 3, 2014 (12 months). Employees who averaged 30 hours or more over this 12-month period, were offered medical coverage for 2015. The first new-hire measurement period was November 1, 2013, to October 31, 2014.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Why does the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) ongoing “measurement period” start October 4?

The measurement, administrative, and stability periods have been determined based on current practices. The UM System wants to make sure the stability (coverage) period for variable-hour employees who are eligible for medical insurance mirrors that of the plan year for fully benefit-eligible employees (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31) and provides variable-hour employees the same plan year and annual deductible period as fully benefit-eligible employees.

Please note: The stability period is Jan. 1 – Dec. 31 of each year only for ongoing eligible employees. The stability period for new hires or newly eligible employees varies.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What is a “stability period” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?

For the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the short answer is that a “stability period” is the period you are guaranteed coverage. Once the UM System offers you medical insurance, you are guaranteed to have coverage for a 12-month stability period provided you enroll for insurance in the first 31 days of your stability period. In other words, you cannot lose your insurance coverage from the UM System even if your average hours worked drop below 30 hours per week, as long as you enroll within the first 31 days and assuming you do not separate from the university.

Keep in mind that you may have to enroll in a medical plan more than once per year when you are first offered insurance. That’s because your new-hire stability period varies, tracking with your new-hire measurement period, but it does not necessarily track with the ongoing measurement period.

The new-hire process is as follows:

Process Measurement Period Administrative Period Stability Period
  12 months when the UM System measures variable-hour employees’ work hours. Beginning and end dates vary based on the date an employee starts work. The UM System reviews the measurement period data and prepares offers to those variable-hour employees qualifying for medical insurance coverage. 12 months following the administrative period in which an eligible employee cannot become ineligible for insurance, assuming they enroll within the first 31 days of the stability period and do not separate from the university.

The new-hire measurement period varies based on your hire date, but the ongoing measurement period is always October 4 of one year to October 3 of the next year. If you intersect the middle of the ongoing measurement period, then you will receive an offer to enroll in medical insurance more than once per year.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

Link to this FAQ

Do “measurement periods” for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) remain the same?

Employers have the ability to change the measurement period under the regulations. At this point, it is not expected that the measurement period will change. However, as we navigate through the first few measurement, administrative, and stability periods, we will continue to evaluate whether this is the most appropriate time period for variable-hour employees and the UM System.

The new-hire measurement period varies based on your hire date, but the ongoing measurement period is always October 4 of one year to October 3 of the next year. If you intersect the middle of the ongoing measurement period, then you will receive an offer to enroll in medical insurance more than once per year.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What does “variable-hour employee” mean under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

A variable-hour employee is one who works for the university but is not fully benefit eligible. In the past, the term “part‐time” has most commonly been used.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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How do breaks in service impact the PPACA measurement period?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) regulations state that breaks in service greater than 26 weeks require employees to begin a new measurement period. To comply with this, if an employee has a break in service of more than 26 weeks (excluding FMLA and Military Leave), the employee record should be terminated and then the individual should be rehired at a later time if needed.

If an employee is rehired after a break in service longer than 26 weeks, they will be placed into a new measurement period. If the break in service is not expected to last longer than 26 weeks, then the individual should be placed on an appropriate leave (short work break). When an employee has a break in service of less than 26 weeks, they will be placed back into the same measurement/coverage period that they were in at the time of their break began. It is understood that this could create additional I‐9 verification and criminal background checks.

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Can we continue to use short work breaks for periods when variable-hour employees aren’t working?

Under the PPACA, short work breaks may be used for individuals who will be absent for less than 26 weeks (e.g., graduate students over the summer). For more information, go to the question How do breaks in service impact the measurement period?

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Are holiday, summer, & other breaks included in average hours worked for variable-hour employees?

PPACA regulations require that certain breaks or leaves be included/excluded from the calculation of average hours to determine medical coverage eligibility, as follows:

  • Periods of FMLA and Military Leave are excluded from the calculation.
  • Summer breaks in which there are no hours worked in a four-week period (June, July, August) are excluded. If there are any hours worked during a summer month (June, July, August) then that month will be included in the calculation.
  • Regulatory guidance has only allowed for the exclusion of summer breaks and has not outlined exclusion of holiday breaks (i.e. Winter break, Spring break, Thanksgiving break). Therefore, holiday breaks will be included in the calculation.
  • Otherwise, unless the employee is terminated, any worked time over the 12-month measurement period will be included. Periods of time not worked will lower the overall average and lessen the employee’s probability of qualifying for coverage under PPACA.

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How do these changes from the PPACA impact retirees who have returned to work at the university?

Retirees who are receiving retirement benefits from the university (i.e. pension, medical plan) may not work more than a .74 full-time equivalency (FTE) in all concurrent jobs. Doing so will result in retirement benefits being stopped. This is not a change. Worked hours for rehired retirees will be tracked using the same methods as for other employees.

For related information, see Rehire requirements for retired or vested individuals who are less than age 62.

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Do independent contractors need to track their hours?

No. As long as they meet the IRS requirements and campus guidelines to be classified as an independent contractor, they do not need to track their hours under the PPACA. The university only has to track hours for employees; we do not need to track hours for independent contractors.

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Do UM retirees who have returned to work at the university need to track their hours?

Yes. Under the PPACA, UM retirees who have returned to work at the university are required to track hours in the same way that active employees do. Hourly positions already track worked hours. Non‐teaching, variable-hour employees should record actual hours using a non‐pay time reporting code in the time reporting system. Teaching academic appointments are quantified using an equivalency of 3 1/3 hours worked for each credit hour taught.

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Who pays for the cost of insurance for variable-hour employees determined to be eligible?

PPACA regulations require that the employee not be required to pay a share of the cost greater than what other employees eligible for medical benefits pay. Therefore, individuals that are eligible for medical insurance will pay the same premium costs for coverage as those that are fully benefit eligible.

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Are variable-hour employees allowed to work more than 30 hours per week?

Departments, in partnership with their Campus HR, manage their work force and make decisions about when and how much an employee will work. If a variable-hour employee averages more than 30 hours per week over the measurement period, that individual will be offered medical coverage. If an individual is consistently working .75 full-time equivalency (FTE) (30 hours) in any single position and has at least a nine-month appointment, this individual should be considered fully benefit eligible.

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Do employees who have other medical coverage still have to report their hours worked?

Yes. The PPACA’s employer mandate requires that we track hours for all variable-hour employees and offer coverage to those that are eligible. An employee does not have to accept coverage, but the university is still required to make the offer regardless of if the employee has other medical coverage (such as coverage purchased through the federal Marketplace, a spouse’s employer, or provided by Medicaid).

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