The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

2015 Federal Legislative and Regulatory Update for Higher Ed

Ulman_2015UpdateIn his Washington update at the 2015 CUPA-HR Annual Conference, CUPA-HR Chief Government Relations Officer Josh Ulman focused on three looming compliance issues:

  • Coverage of Students and Adjunct Faculty Under the Affordable Care Act
  • The “Cadillac” Tax Provision of the Affordable Care Act
  • DOL’s Proposed Changes to FLSA Overtime Rules

CUPA-HR members can view a video of Ulman’s session. It’s about an hour long and is packed with good information. Here’s a quick overview:

ACA: Students and Adjunct Faculty
From calculating hours for adjunct faculty to subsidizing SHIP plans for graduate students, guidance has been slow in coming, but we have had some successes. Thanks in part to CUPA-HR’s efforts, the IRS developed a formula for calculating adjunct faculty hours (2.25 hours for every hour of class), but also retained the “reasonable method” option. The IRS also granted the request for an exemption for students working as part of federal or state work-study programs, whose work is less about student employment and more about funding their education.

Questions remain, however, about coverage for other student workers. Also, there are questions as to whether the IRS will view some SHIP-plan subsidies for graduate students as unlawful under the ACA. CUPA-HR is working to get answers to these questions from the IRS and other agencies in D.C.

ACA: The “Cadillac” Tax
The excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage, also known as the “Cadillac” tax, would impose a 40 percent levy on healthcare plans for any coverage cost above certain thresholds. Although the tax doesn’t go into effect until 2018, for employers engaged in negotiations over collective bargaining agreements and other long-term contracts, 2018 might as well be tomorrow. Another problem: future increases in the thresholds are currently tied to the inflation rate rather than the rate of healthcare cost increases. If rates stay consistent with where they are now, by 2025, 56 percent of plans nationwide will exceed the threshold. Read about the latest efforts to repeal the tax.

FLSA: Proposed Overtime Changes
The chief concerns for higher ed are (1) the proposed change to the minimum annual salary requirement, which would increase from $23,660 to $50,440, and (2) the proposed move to automatic annual updates of the threshold. CUPA-HR has been very active in providing DOL with feedback on the proposed changes. We expect to see these changes finalized in one form or another within the next year. In preparation, institutions are advised to start doing their analysis of positions that would be impacted.

Keep Your Institution Informed on the Issues
CUPA-HR government relations staff and the public policy committee are hard at work evaluating and providing input on a wide range of regulatory and legislative issues that could have a direct impact on the higher education workplace. Here are three ways you can stay informed of this work and assume a strategic role when it comes to employment-related legislation and regulation: