PHOENIX -- While many hoped the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, would encourage employers to offer coverage to more employees, the fact is that many companies have chosen to cut employee hours instead. That's because only those working 30 hours or more a week are required to be covered.
And while that may be good news for a company's bottom line, the opposite is true for employees.
"I loved the hours I was able to work four 10-hour days," says Nancy Southworth. She works at Mesa Community College, along with colleague, Jayneen Stevens. But in July they learned despite their years of service, their 40-hour work week is going away. "Those of us who work part time are there because we need a paycheck,“ says Stevens.
The district sent out this memo, announcing a 25-hour per week cap for temporary employees and adjunct faculty. The memo reads: "These changes are being made to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act." And Stevens says ever since that memo came out, there has been added stress at work.
"They make you feel very nervous if you go over," she says. "The 25, it's hard to try and get everything I need to get done in 25 hours, because actually I can't get it all done."
Fewer hours have forced both women to make some tough decisions, "Financially it makes us go into savings that I hadn't wanted to,“ Stevens says.
Jon Ford with St. Luke's believes the Affordable Care Act has some businesses making decisions based on the unknown. "I'm going to make sure that more of my employees work less than 35 hours so I don't have to deal with this. That might be the reality but we don't know that yet."
But Southworth says if businesses are wondering what it all means, employees are even more concerned. "It may very well end up being two jobs and hopefully employers will be willing to work with us if that's the way we have to go," she says.
"It basically feels like we've never been appreciated and we can be loyal to our departments and our schools and what have you and it doesn't matter," says Stevens.