Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Adjunct teaching and health insurance

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has prompted the Internal Revenue Service to think about the hours of work that go into adjunct teaching. The IRS estimate: three hours for every credit-hour. Thus a three-credit class would count as nine hours of work per week. Four courses would put an instructor over the thirty-hour week that qualifies for health insurance:

Although the rules are still in the making, Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, a national advocacy group for adjuncts, said what the IRS had proposed so far seems promising.

“I think the IRS is on the right track in recognizing that adjunct faculty constitute a unique category of worker in terms of how their work is currently recognized and compensated,” Ms. Maisto wrote in an e-mail. “It is helpful that the IRS is recognizing that there is a lack of uniformity in the way that adjunct work hours are currently calculated and how adjuncts are treated. This seems to be a huge step forward in the government's education about the true nature of contingent academic work.”

But even as the IRS is working to provide colleges with the guidelines they have sought from the agency, a few institutions have made pre-emptive moves by cutting back the number of hours adjuncts are allowed to work—among them, Youngstown State University, Stark State College, and the Community College of Allegheny County, where at least 200 adjuncts face a newly instituted cap on the number of courses they can teach.

IRS Says Colleges Must Be “Reasonable” When Calculating Adjuncts’ Work Hours (Chronicle of Higher Education)
What these schools and others are doing reminds me of the corporate strategy of giving employees thirty-nine hours a week to keep the work “part-time” (without health insurance). I’ll say it again: the exploitation of adjunct labor is the shame and scandal of American higher education.


April 23, 2012: The Chronicle of Higher Education continues to follow the story: Colleges Are Slashing Adjuncts’ Hours to Skirt New Rules on Health-Insurance Eligibility.

A related post
The Adjunct Project

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