Dearborn Cuts Hours of Part-Time City Employees as Obamacare Provisions Go Into Effect

The city's policy limits part-time and seasonal employees to 28 hours per week.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the employees that may be affected by the city's part-time employee policy revision.

A new policy implemented by the city of Dearborn will reduce the number of hours part-time and seasonal employees can work during the week.

The policy states that part-time employees cannot work more than an average of 28 hours per week over 52 weeks from April 1 to March 30 of the proceding year according to Mary Laundroche, director of the city's Public Information Department.

Laundroche said the policy went into effect April 1.

Mayor John B. O'Reilly, Jr. said the policy was drafted due to changes in the federal government's definition of a "part-time" employee.

Under the Affordable Care Act, full-time workers are defined as anyone who works more than 30 hours a week in a given month. A provision in the act that goes into effect next year requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health care coverage for employees. For businesses that don't, there is a $2,000 penalty for each full-time worker above the 30-employee threshold.

"We want to be cautionary," O'Reilly said. "After talking with our benefits consulting firm and dissecting the Affordable Care Act, we put together this policy based on the best advice we could get."

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, O'Reilly said the city's policy capped part-time employees to 30 hours because the National Labor Relations Board set 32 hours as the standard.

"There's always going to be some employees who are scheduled close to the mark that divides part-time and full-time designations, but we wanted to maintain a policy that keeps us on the safe side," O'Reilly said.

"If we had to provide health care and other benefits to all of our employees, the burden on the city would be tremendous. Health care is one of the largest budget items that increases annually due to the rising cost from insurance providers," O'Reilly continued.

The city has roughly 518 regular part-time employees and 218 seasonal employees, Laundroche said. The number of seasonal employees will increase in the summer as the city hires lifeguards, camp counselors, etc., she said.

Only employees who were working 30 hours prior to the policy change will be affected, Laundroche said. Employees who were working 28 hours or less will not see a reduction in their hours.

"Unfortunately we understand that, because of this policy, the city may lose some good employees who may have to pursue jobs elsewhere," O'Reilly said. "The city is like any private or public employer having to adjust to changes in the law."

Chicago Way April 10, 2013 at 01:05 PM
On March 9, 2010, Pelosi said of the Affordable Care Act, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.” Guess somebody found out some 3 years later....
cheryl April 10, 2013 at 01:12 PM
So our city can spend millions on a new city hall and endless Plante and Moran "studies" but you can't find enough money to allow your part time workers to actually have some decent benefits. Quit blaming this on "Obamacare." It's called something else, in my book.
Millie April 10, 2013 at 01:26 PM
When the federal govt is forcing the actions of state and.local gvt it certainly is the federal blame. This is just the start of big problems with obamacare. God help us all.
Renee April 10, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Shame on Dearborn local government trying to blame the federal government and "Obamacare". Remember when it was humane to offer health insurance to your employees and their families? When Dearborn refused to do the right thing and lower property taxes when home values dropped after so many complaints they just raised the millage rates. Greed is to blame.
laplateau April 10, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Chicago---you are right....bu Pelosi is still (and always has been) lost in a fog!
laplateau April 10, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Cheryl..I no doubt the city is probably being duplicitous in this, but Obamacare is still the culprit in this and many other part-time workers across the country.
laplateau April 10, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Renee...I agree with you partially, but Obamacare IS the cuprit, and O'Reilly and his cronies are capitalizing on it.
Marium Wilke April 10, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Thanks Renee & Cheryl...The people we vote in blame it on Health Care..I guess they don't think all people have the right to decent health care..I bet that everyone that had a negative comment has a good job and health care...And yes we do have enough to pay department heads big money..and buy a new city hall..and hire independent firms to do analysis...and not fix our fountain in front of our Library..and close our pools...and what else don't we have or going to lose over Obama care or just plain old health care..taking care of our people that are not as privileged as others..What a shame! have enough
Lee Jacobsen April 13, 2013 at 06:10 AM
Marium, someone has to pay the bill for Dearborn workers and Obamacare, and for the city of Dearborn, that is us, the taxpayers. All people have the right to life , liberty, happiness etc and healthcare, as sick folk simply go to the emergency room, then and now, and receive care. If you are part time, then expect part time pay and benefits. Soon part time jobs will be the norm, as when Obamacare kicks in full steam in 2014, employers, private and govt, will opt to avoid healthcare and the $2000 per employee penalties. I figure the minimum wage will be raised by Obamacare to around $10 per hr, as one of the provisions mandates that employers must pay 70% of the cost, and that costs charged to the employees for their share cannot exceed 9.5% of their total income. That means it would be less cost to increase the pay of an employee than pay the $2000-$3000 fine for not meeting the 9.5% threshold. End result? Get out of the insurance business as much as possible by making employees part time rather than give them all raises from $7.52 to $10.28. Is a new entry employee with no experience worth over $10 per hour? Depends. The money increase needs to come from somewhere. It means higher costs for goods, higher taxes. The alternative is part time to cut full time healthcare costs. That is Dearborn's path since we don't want the higher tax option. I dodge the issue with temps, but the govt will stop that option soon enough. No profits = no business = no jobs
Cheerio April 13, 2013 at 11:17 AM
That's correct, cheryl, local taxpayers should not be expected to pay for benefits for every part-time employee. That's what people voted for Obama Care for; So somebody "else" can pay for it. If you can't do the part time job without benefits, quit and look elsewhere for a job and open up the position for someone who can.
laplateau April 13, 2013 at 01:19 PM
I am absolutely surprised that part time city workers received benefits in the first place. For most private sector companies, not providing them has always been the norm, or very minimal perquisites at the very most. I have worked part time at a nationwide company for the last 6 years and have never received, or offered, any benefit other than my paycheck. It usually depends on the number of hours worked per week in determining part time/full time status, but for my company, one has to work at least 32 hours a week, and then the benefits offered are very limited. Additionally, I would be required to pay a large part of the costs involved. I think municipal government, certainly including Dearborn, have had a history of feathering their own nests, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.
Pam April 13, 2013 at 02:40 PM
I read the article again. I don't see where it said that the City has been providing health care benefits to part time employees. I would be curious to see exactly how many are affected by this change. Health care is expensive and one way or another if it is unlimited the chickens will come home to roost.
Lee Jacobsen April 13, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Pam, as Lap has mentioned, and the city has mentioned, the part time hour threshold used to be 32 hours, now the govt is making it official at 30 hours. Employers like to err on the side of caution which is usually around 2 hours less than the max threshold. That is why the city is reducing their part time threshold to 28 hours so they won't be forced to pay a $2-3 thousand dollar penalty for inadvertently letting someone work additional hours. Before Obamacare, the penalty was non-existent. The city has to protect itself from penalties. My take? Obamacare will eventually force most employers to drop healthcare, instead they will tell employees to go to the exchanges, and for those employers that can afford it, employers will give what they used to pay in healthcare to the employees to offset the increased healthcare cost. I am paying $9 grand now for B/C for a family of 4, under Obamacare, and employees were happy. Obamacare is forcing me to upgrade to what the govt thinks is proper healthcare, at a much higher cost, est to be around 17 grand by 2014, right now it is nearly 16 grand. See here. http://www.kff.org/insurance/ehbs091112nr.cfm What to do? If an employer can afford it, give what was paid in healthcare costs to the employee, in my case, around 9 grand, payable in increments over the course of a year. Let the employee pick healthcare at the exchanges, after all, they are receiving the care, and the employer is in business to do other services.
Pam April 13, 2013 at 04:53 PM
I think we are on the same page-basically, the cost is 2 hours less wages for part time that were working 30 hours or so. They were kept part time before at the old wage level so they couldn't qualify for "full-time" benefits, including health care.
edward binkley April 13, 2013 at 05:50 PM
See this is another reason to sign my petetion and vote for me I would find work in other areas of the city partime for the employee's. was thinking about starting a youth corp project similar to the one the state had back in the 80"s and you could use some of the partimers to train and run the program so that our teens get a chance to work in the real world. heck there are senior citezens that want to work but don't have the reading skills to fill out an application. I m helping 1 right now learn how to read. this is why I have not turnred in my petetion with signatures not enougn time in the day.
edward binkley April 13, 2013 at 05:52 PM
then we should not have bought another city hall and lost money on top of it. and how much are we making on parking meters? how much is homecoming bringing in? has the mayor approved a budget with us the taxpayers -voters..
edward binkley April 13, 2013 at 06:00 PM
I beleieve that it was an 80/20 split or maybe 20/80 seeing how most of the partimers moved from departments where they were fulltime employees. so they had to split the insurance cost.
VoiceYourDisapproval July 31, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Don't ignore the problem while Obamacare does its damage---cutting worker's hours, putting people out of work, driving up healthcare costs and hurting families. Join other Americans who are signing the petition to Defund Obamacare by going to: http://www.dontfundobamacare.com


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