Try Obamacare, Sodexo says
| Marcus Clem editor in chief |
The proper care and feeding of college students is a duty Sodexo employees know well, but their own benefits are undergoing some changes.
Sodexo announced in January that it would be redefining which employees are full time and what benefits people who are no longer full time will be entitled to.
The changes, the company says, are in response to new rules put in place by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known commonly as “Obamacare,” passed in 2010.
Sodexo’s reforms reclassify full-time employees as those who work an average of 30-plus hours per week over a 13-week quarter. Previously, employees who worked that much per week in any six of the 13 weeks had full-time status.
As a result, says Todd Wixson, general manager for Sodexo at Pittsburg State, about 20 of his employees will now be considered part-timers. Officially, that means they lose some of the benefits full-time status warrants.
However, in terms of compensation and benefits, Wixson says, “they are getting the same dollar amount as if they had been full time.”
The new system is being implemented in advance of the January 2015 deadline that requires companies of Sodexo’s size to provide affordable health insurance to full-time employees. “Affordable” is defined as an employee spending 9.5 percent of his or her income or less on health insurance premiums.
On Feb. 10, the Obama administration announced that for companies with between 50 and 100 employees on staff, the deadline to comply with these rules, known as the “employer mandate,” would be extended one year to January 2016. Sodexo has 413,000 employees worldwide and will still be required to meet the earlier deadline.
Wixson says Sodexo recently had a town-hall seminar that helped to explain the new system.
“I’m not going to hold any punches,” he said. “There were a select few employees before our town hall that just grumbled and expressed concern about how this was going to affect them. Local and national news had caused a little bit of angst.”
Wixson says that he is optimistic that any Sodexo employee who wishes to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s health-insurance exchange will be able to save money.
Depending on each employee’s situation, the $150 per paycheck that is drawn from an average full-time employee could be reduced, though actually selling the use of the Affordable Care Act’s system has been a challenge, Wixson says.
“It’s natural that our employees react to what they see, read and hear based on the positive or negative stories they see,” he said.
Wixson says that he has been able to convince most employees that the politics of the law aside, its healthcare exchanges are functional.
“Right now, you have to pay $150 a paycheck for health care. I have been able to show how a subsidy can be beneficial for you and your family.”
Wixson added that ultimately, it depends on each employee’s situation and what they qualify for individually that will determine how they can get affordable health care.
“If (Affordable Care Act savings) give them a better quality of life because they don’t have such a significant insurance payment then I’m pleased with the outcome.”