IRS Starts to Address Issues on Adjunct Faculty Hours
January 7, 2013

Proposed rules issued by the Internal Revenue Service note concerns among some colleges about how to calculate when adjunct faculty members should be considered to be working close enough to full-time to be entitled to employee health insurance under the new health-care legislation. Some colleges -- worried about being required to provide health insurance -- have been cutting adjunct hours so the institutions can be sure that the adjuncts wouldn't fall under the new law. Faculty advocates have said that these moves are unfair and represent an over-reaction to the situation. (Most faculty leaders say that colleges should be paying the health insurance for these adjuncts anyway.)

The IRS proposed rules explain that "some commenters noted that educational organizations generally do not track the full hours of service of adjunct faculty, but instead compensate adjunct faculty on the basis of credit hours taught. Some comments suggested that hours of service for adjunct faculty should be determined by crediting three hours of service per week for each course credit taught. Others explained that some educational organizations determine whether an adjunct faculty member will be treated as a full-time employee by comparing the number of course credit hours taught by the adjunct faculty member to the number of credit hours taught by typical non- adjunct faculty members working in the same or a similar discipline who are considered full-time employees."

The proposed rules don't take a stand on how best to determine the hours actually worked by those who are not full-timers, and suggest that more guidance will be coming. However the IRS does state that colleges need to use "reasonable" methods for counting hours. It would "not be a reasonable method of crediting hours to fail to take into ... in the case of an instructor, such as an adjunct faculty member, to take into account only classroom or other instruction time and not other hours that are necessary to perform the employee’s duties, such as class preparation time," the document says.

 

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