KU grad students are concerned work hours might be reduced by health care rules

04/07/2014 10:16 AM

04/07/2014 10:16 AM

University of Kansas graduate students are concerned the school might reduce the hours they are allowed to work on campus in an effort to comply with new health care requirements.

Hundreds of the students signed petitions in March asking administrators not to cut the hours they can work on campus. Currently graduate students are allowed to work up to 30 hours a week on campus. Many of the students work 20 of those hours as teaching assistants and take second jobs on campus to make ends meet, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

Graduate students' concerns began when an email circulated that appeared to propose limiting graduate work hours to 20 per week. School administrators said they have not implemented a new policy but they are considering reducing hours to comply with a new mandate that employers provide health insurance for employees working 30 hours a week or more.

Kansas Vice Provost Diane Goddard sent an email to students recently that said regardless of the outcome of the current discussion, graduate students will still be offered health insurance.

The current policy of offering a health plan with a 75 percent university contribution satisfies the individual requirement to carry insurance under the health care reform law, but not the requirement for employers to provide group coverage to their full-time employees, said Gavin Young, a university spokesman.

Young said the university is working on several issues, including how to apply the 30-hour-a-week definition of full-time work to graduate student workers, how many current graduate students would be eligible for insurance and the cost of providing insurance for them through the state employee plan.

We're just kind of still in that waiting limbo mode," Florez said.

Angela Murphy, a doctorate student in the English department, said she hopes she and other graduate students can keep their second jobs but many are pessimistic. The general consensus is: "I'm expecting the worst," Murphy said.

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