Effective January 1, 2015, colleges and universities will need to comply with the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which will have particular implications involving certain student employees. The employer mandate requires large employers (defined as 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents) to offer health coverage that meets certain standards or to pay an assessment under the Internal Revenue Code. For purposes of the mandate, an employee who works 30 hours per week is considered full-time.

While many employers need to wrestle with the complexities of this new requirement, the mandate presents particular challenges for colleges and universities because of their unique workforces. The regulations under the employer mandate contain specific rules on adjunct faculty members that higher education employers will need to consider, but the guidance does not single out other employees that may raise concerns, such as assistant coaches.

Perhaps no employees raise greater issues than the students whom colleges and universities employ. Although many laws provide broad exemptions for student employees, only students in federal work-study or similar programs will be exempt from the employer mandate. As a result, colleges and universities will need to address a number of issues, including:

  • How to determine whether a student employee works full-time
  • Whether to offer employer-sponsored group health coverage to student employees and how to structure and price that coverage
  • How to take advantage of transitional rules that apply for 2015
  • How to comply with applicable reporting requirements

All of these issues need to be considered in view of the array of other employment issues that arise with regard to student employees. If you need assistance addressing these issues, lawyers in Ballard Spahr’s Higher Education, Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation, and Labor and Employment Groups are prepared to help.

As the federal health care reform effort gained steam, Ballard Spahr attorneys established the Health Care Reform Initiative to monitor and analyze legislative developments. With federal health care reform now a reality, our attorneys are assisting health care entities and employers in understanding the relevant changes and planning for the future. They also have launched the Health Care Reform Dashboard, an online resource center for news and analysis on developments under the Affordable Care Act.

If you have questions about this alert, contact Edward I. Leeds at 215.864.8419 or leeds@ballardspahr.com.


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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

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