Hours cut for substitute teachers due to Obamacare | Paterson Times

Hours cut for substitute teachers due to Obamacare

A picture of Paterson Board of Education building

The working hours of substitute teachers will be reduced by a day starting next school year due to new healthcare law.

“Substitute employees will be limited to working a maximum of four (4) days per week, effective September 1, 2014,” reads an announcement issued to substitute teachers from the school district. Substitute teachers, who work on a per day basis, are currently able to work all five days of the week, earning $110 per day.

“This is a consequence of law change,” said Jonathan Hodges, a school board member, who said it is not just the city, other districts are struggling to deal with this issue. Employer mandate, a section of the legislation colloquially called Obamacare, compels agencies and organizations with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance for those who work more than 30 hours per week. In other words, substitutes who work all five days see a total of 35 hours, making them eligible for healthcare under Obamacare.

“It will impact everyone,” said a substitute teacher, who has been working at the district regularly. The substitute, who did not wished to be named, said there are families who live on income earned from substitute teaching, and cutting hours will adversely impact them. “I think they’ll blame Obamacare,” said the substitute.

“We have 815 substitutes, but on average approximately 300 work per day,” said Terry Corallo, the district’s spokesperson. Corallo said, providing the regular 300 insurance will cost the district $5.4 million; providing healthcare to all 815 will cost even more: $14 million. The average benefit cost per employee is about $18,000 per year, making it very expensive to provide substitutes with health insurance. “Currently the district is looking for ways to reduce expenses, not add to them,” said Corallo.

“I really don’t care about the insurance,” said another substitute, who also did not wished to be named because he currently works at the district. “I just hoped they wouldn’t cut my hours.” Not all substitutes work to sustain a family, there are college students, who likely have insurance under their parent’s plan, who are on track to becoming teachers and use substituting as a means to understanding the classroom environment.

Substitutes who are currently alerted via telephone when a position becomes available, will all have obtained swipe cards by early next year to exactly measure hours, so the phone doesn’t ring on the 5th day. “They’re finding better ways to monitor the number of hours a person work,” said Hodges.

They are also able to log into an online platform that lists jobs when they become available – presumably those alerts will also stop showing after an employee reaches the four-working-day limit.

The city provides a higher rate to substitute teachers as compared to surrounding communities: Wayne provides $95 per day. “This district pays $110/day for a 7 hour work day which includes lunch,” said Corallo. “You can check, but I think we have a very competitive compensation rate for substitutes who choose to work in Paterson.”