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CUPA-HR Meets With Treasury to Discuss Treatment of Student Workers Under ACA’s Employer Mandate

On February 17, CUPA-HR and the American Council on Education, along with other higher ed associations, met with the U.S. Department of Treasury to discuss the ongoing issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate as it relates to student workers in colleges and universities. February’s meeting was a follow-up to a January 2015 conversation wherein we provided input to the Treasury and the IRS on how institutions could calculate hours for resident assistants, undergraduate and graduate research assistants and other student workers whose hours are problematic to track.

Under Section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code, which was added by the ACA, large employers (those with 50 or more employees) must provide full-time employees with health insurance coverage or possibly face tax penalties. The ACA defines a “full-time employee” as one who works 30 or more hours per week. Higher education has some unique challenges in this regard, especially as it pertains to student workers (graduate assistants, resident assistants, recreational sports assistants and student government officers) who may receive compensation for the work they provide in the form of a single lump sum and whose hours are generally not tracked.

As such, the February 17 meeting extended an opportunity for higher ed to return to the Treasury and provide input on how institutions track hours and offer a variety of solutions for the Treasury and IRS to consider if, and when, these offices issue additional guidance. Although Treasury made assurances that it would take our comments seriously, the agency is unlikely to issue guidance any time in the near future that will provide relief to institutions concerned with the matter.

Given the difficulty associated with calculating hours for these types of student workers, CUPA-HR has continually advocated for clear guidance from the IRS and Treasury to ensure employers will not run afoul of the ACA’s reporting requirements. We will continue to work with the agencies and look to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to find a solution to this issue.

To learn about our past work related to the ACA and to stay updated as we move forward, keep an eye on CUPA-HR’s ACA Advocacy Page.

 

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  • Brett M

    Great article. Hopefully all of us in the student employment field will get answers. I do want to note, that in the student employment field, we are trying to move away from the term student “worker”, and embrace the term student “employee”. This helps supervisors and students identify themselves more with being an employee and valued member of of the institution, rather than someone who just does “work”.