Some Sewickley workers to see hours cut as borough aligns with new healthcare laws
By Bobby Cherry
Published: Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 11:38 a.m.
Some Sewickley Borough employees will see their hours cut to help the community save money under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The borough's only parking enforcement officer, Margie Wakefield, will see her hours reduced from 40-plus hours a week to a 30-hour work week starting Monday, borough Manager Kevin Flannery said.
Employees who work, on average, more than 30 hours a week must be offered health insurance under the new federal law. The borough can't afford to pay the costs associated with insuring those employees, Flannery said.
Wakefield, who also serves as a crossing guard near Osborne Elementary School in Glen Osborne, now averages about 41 hours a week in Sewickley, Flannery said.
Beginning Monday, Wakefield could be contracted to work additional hours through Glen Osborne.
The remaining hours will be a “private contract between (Wakefield) and (Glen Osborne Borough),” Flannery said.
Wakefield said she has health care through her husband's employer; she directed questions to Sewickley police Chief Jim Ersher. He directed questions to Flannery.
As the town's only meter reader, Wakefield is a familiar face around the village as she checks meters from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In 2012, Sewickley collected $175,900 in parking meter revenue and $74,500 in parking fines, borough records show.
In addition to Wakefield, some Sewickley public-works employees also will see hours cut, and 16 part-time police officers could see hours adjusted, Flannery said. Sewickley Borough employs two to six non-uniformed part-time employees per year, he said.
Leaders in other small towns could find themselves in similar situations as some employ a lot of part-time employees, said employment lawyer Emily Town, an associate attorney with Downtown Pittsburgh-based law firm Stember Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec.
“Even though on its face it looks like a good way to get around (offering healthcare benefits), something like this could make its way to the courts,” Town said.
“Sometimes there are situations where maybe (a new regulation) has these unintended consequences where maybe it has new laws passed or a court decision or a loophole nobody likes.
“It's not new to see employers figure out ways to structure their workforce. A lot of employers try to classify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits.”
Any change in laws regulating healthcare and employee rights result in a lot of questions and problems, Town said.
“These are big changes, so this is something that's going to take awhile to work out all of the issues.”
Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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