The University of Arizona logo

ACA FAQs for Departments

General Questions

How is benefits eligibility changing as a result of the ACA?

Currently, UA offers benefits to employees expected to work at least 20 hours per week for six months or more. Because the ACA requires that health insurance be offered within the first 90 days of employment to all full-time employees, beginning on January 1, 2015, health insurance will be offered to employees expected to work at least 20 hours per week for 90 days or more. The ACA also requires that employers must also “look back” at hours worked during a measurement period to determine if an employee who is not already receiving health-care benefits averaged 30 hours per week during that time. If the 30-hour-per-week average was met, the employee must be offered health-care benefits during a subsequent 12-month stability period.

Aren't employees working 30 hours per week already offered benefits?

Yes, most employees working 30 hours per week are already offered benefits, but some are not. These employees may have an FTE of .49 or below, but report more time than their FTE indicates. If these employees work an average of 30 hours per week over the measurement period, the UA will be required to offer them health-care benefits.

What is the measurement period and when will it start and end?

The measurement period is the time frame that will be used to determine if, based on average hours worked, employees become eligible for health-care benefits. The measurement period for existing employees (those employed at the start of the measurement period) will be approximately October 15 through October 14 (dependent on pay period dates) each year. Employees who averaged 30 hours per week during this time will be offered health-care benefits during the subsequent 12-month stability period. Click here to view the current and future measurement period dates.

What is the stability period and when will it start and end?

The stability period is the time in which health-care benefits must be provided to employees who met the eligibility requirements during the preceding measurement period. The stability period for existing employees (those employed during the entire previous measurement period) will be January 1 through December 31 each year. The first stability period began on January 1, 2015.

What are the measurement and stability periods for new hires (those hired after the mid-October start date)?

The measurement period for a new hire will begin on the first day of the month following the hire date and continue for 12 months. The measurement period will be followed by a 1-month administration period then a 12-month stability period. Following the initial 12-month measurement period, the employee will be measured during UA’s standard measurement period of roughly October 15–October 14 (date varies according to pay period schedule).

Which benefits will be offered to employees who average 30 hours per week during the measurement period?

The law only requires that medical insurance be offered to these employees and their dependent children. However, following the guidance of the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA), UA will offer employees who work an average 30 hours per week over the course of the measurement period medical insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, flexible spending accounts, supplemental life insurance, and short-term disability. Eligible dependents may also enroll.

Will benefits continue through the stability period if the employee changes positions or reduces the number of hours worked?

Yes. If an employee works an average of 30 hours per week during the measurement period, health-care benefits must continue during the entire subsequent stability period, regardless of hours worked.

Is UA required to offer benefits during the entire stability period if the employee terminates during that time?

No. Health-care benefit coverage would end on the last day of the pay period that includes the termination date.

Will a tool be available to help monitor and review the hours worked by non-benefits-eligible employees in my department?

Several dashboards are available in UAccess Analytics to help departments look at the hours worked by non-benefits-eligible employees and ensure compliance with ACA guidelines.

How do we calculate the average hours worked if the employee does not work over the summer?

For employees who work only during the academic year, the summer weeks (in which they are not working) cannot be calculated as part of the average for the measurement period. The average will be calculated by looking at actual months worked rather than a full 12-month year or measurement period.

What are the penalties if health-care benefits are not offered to employees who average 30 hours per week?

Failure to offer health-care coverage to employees averaging 30 hours per week can result in an annual penalty of up to $2,000 per each full-time employee (including all benefits-eligible employees). For UA, the penalty could exceed $20 million.

Where can I find more information about the ACA?

More information is available at www.healthcare.gov

Is paid time off considered when calculating the average?

Whenever an employee is receiving pay and hours are being reported, those hours must be included in the average calculation. This includes work hours, but also paid leave time, such as vacation leave, sick leave, paid administrative leave, paid parental leave or compassionate transfer of leave.

How do I calculate the average hours worked if the employee does not receive pay during a week/weeks?

Any break in service or unpaid time may directly influence the average hours per week calculation. Please see additional information on breaks in service.

How do I calculate the average hours worked if the employee is on Family Medical Leave (FML) or Military Leave?

For employees on FML or Military Leave, unpaid weeks cannot be included when calculating the average hours worked. The average must be calculated by considering only paid weeks. Please see additional information on breaks in service.

How was 15 credits selected as the benchmark for full-time instructors who have 100% teaching assignments?

The 15-credit benchmark is based on several calculations. For example, the teaching load of tenure-track faculty in some colleges identifies a course assignment as requiring 20% of a faculty member’s workload (with two courses equivalent to a 40% teaching assignment). However, in most colleges few non-tenure-track instructors actually teach 15 credits because their classes may be more labor-intensive, or the instructors may be assigned to committees or additional duties beyond teaching their individual classes and holding required office hours. The University benchmark of 15 credits is the recommended baseline for assigning FTEs to instructors, but colleges may determine when a different FTE formula is appropriate for an individual’s assigned duties.

How are FTEs to be calculated for shorter courses?

Since 15 credits for a 15-week course is the general benchmark for determining full-time status, departments can calculate FTEs for courses that run less than 15 weeks by using the basic formula of one credit per week. Using that formula, instructors would be full-time if they taught five credits over a five-week period or nine credits over a nine-week period.

What criteria should departments use in setting FTEs for individual instructors?

When using the 15-credit benchmark for full-time equivalency, departments have the latitude to adjust FTEs as appropriate to the individual's teaching assignments. FTEs can be adjusted for courses that may be more labor-intensive, such as labs or studio courses, or if the individual has additional assigned duties such as advising, outreach, or committee assignments.

If adjunct instructors’ employment status changes to State/University benefits-eligible, do departments have to revise their Notice of Appointment to remove the title of adjunct?

Instructors are sometimes assigned additional courses after their Notice of Appointment (NOA) has been signed because of rising enrollments in a program, and those changes in workloads may change benefits eligibility. Complications with benefits eligibility have also arisen when instructors are teaching in more than one department and one of the departments may not be aware of that fact when drawing up a NOA. These challenges with managing benefits eligibility will continue, and there will be some cases where changes in titles are not feasible as part of making the change in the individual’s benefits eligibility.

What is the impact of the ACA on student worker employment?

The Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) eligibility rules have excluded student workers from receiving health-care benefits. However, under ACA, all employees, including student workers, who work an average of 30 hours per week during the measurement period must be offered health-care benefits.

What is a UA student worker?

A UA student worker is a student enrolled and regularly attending classes at the University of Arizona who maintains six credit hours or more of coursework during the fall and spring semesters. Enrollment is not required during winter and summer sessions, as long as the student demonstrates enrollment in both the previous and subsequent semesters.

Can I hire an individual who is enrolled as a student at another institution?

Yes, a student who is enrolled at another institution (e.g., Pima Community College, Yavapai Community College) may be employed at UA, but must be hired into a non-student-worker category such as ancillary.

What is the maximum number of hours a UA student worker may work per week?

A UA student worker enrolled in six credit hours or more may work a maximum of 25 hours per week during the academic year, and a maximum of 35 hours during the winter and summer sessions.

Can a UA student worker maintain two positions in either the same department or different departments?

Yes. However, departments will need to consider this when planning and scheduling work hours. Hours reported in all positions held at UA are included when determining total hours worked.

What if the UA student worker drops below six course credit hours or drops all coursework?

If a student in a student worker position drops below six credit hours or drops all coursework and is no longer enrolled at UA, the student is no longer eligible to be in a student worker position. Departments should contact the Division of Human Resources as needed for guidance on ending the student worker relationship and discussing other employment options.

What are my staffing options if a UA student worker becomes ineligible for UA student employment?

Please contact Human Resources Employment at 520-621-7704 for guidance on additional staffing options.

How can I monitor whether my student worker has the required course credit hours to maintain eligibility for student worker employment?

A dashboard for monitoring course credit hours along with work hours is available in UAccess Analytics. This dashboard is located on the Business Manager Home Page under the Retirement Eligibility tab. Detailed instructions are available by clicking here.

Who is responsible for notifying the student worker that he/she has not maintained the required course credit hours to secure student worker employment?

The immediate supervisor/home department is responsible for monitoring student workers' hours and eligibility for employment. The Division of Human Resources is available to provide additional guidance to supervisors and departments.

Are there limits on the number of hours students on federal work study may work each week?

Students on federal work study may work up to 25 hours during the fall and spring semesters and 35 hours per week during the winter and summer sessions. While the ACA does not require employers to offer benefits to students on federal work study based on average hours worked, UA policy is that all student workers, whether they are on federal work study or not, will have the same allowable work hours per week.

Are there limits on the number of hours international students on an F-1 student visa or a J-1 exchange visitor visa can work each week?

An international student on an F-1 student visa or a J-1 exchange visitor visa may work in a student worker position up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours per week during winter and summer sessions. These work hour limits are different than those for all other student workers but are in accordance with U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service regulations.


Don't see your question? Ask it here.