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."