Sodexo, TCU’s food service contractor, is cutting benefits for many of its workers, including some who work at Market Square.
Sodexo redefined its full-time positions as part of its compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Companies were required to notify its employees of provisions that were made effective under the ACA no later than Oct. 1.
When Sodexo made this announcement last fall, the company also said that it intended to redefine full-time employment, which has led to benefit cuts. The new mandates for employers started to take effect Jan. 1.
“We are changing our definition of what constitutes a full-time employee in order to match the definition included in the ACA,” said Gregory Yost, senior manager of media relations at Sodexo.
Before the change, Sodexo required a full-time employee to work 30 hours per week for six or more weeks each quarter. Now, an average of 30 hours per week over a 52-week period is required to qualify as a full-time employee.
As many as 77 employees working within TCU Dining Services were affected, Yost said. They were once full-time but are now considered part-time under the new definition.
Sodexo is no longer providing health-care services to part-time employees due to this recent implementation.
Time periods during the year with lower student traffic in Market Square, such as breaks within and between semesters, prevent these workers from meeting the updated definition of a full-time employee.
The company has about 125,000 employees nationwide at college campuses, hospitals, stadiums and arenas, military bases and other facilities.
“This is not something limited to TCU; rather, it is a nationwide initiative impacting all facets of the company,” Yost said.
In compliance with the ACA, companies with 50 or more workers must provide health care to their full-time employees or face a fine (Sec. 4980H). However, it does not require a company to eliminate benefits for part-time workers.
“We made this decision to maintain our competitiveness in the market,” Yost said.
Yost said that it is important to reinforce that Sodexo is not cutting hours, benefits or pay for employees, but instead they are redefining what a full-time employee is.
For workers losing full-time status, the company plans to provide assistance in finding medical coverage, said Michael Dahl, director of operations for TCU Dining Services.
Sodexo will compensate employees who lose their benefits by giving them an equal increase in pay, said Yost.
“As part of the ACA implementation process, we have been meeting with employees regularly to provide information, answer questions and address concerns,” said Dahl.
Employees who are now considered part-time have also lost other benefits, including paid holidays, vacation days and sick leave.
“We have provided employees with an abundance of resources to help them through this transition,” Dahl said.
Drayon Amerson, a manager at Market Square, said that he is against the benefit changes that are resulting from the new definition of full-time employment.
“There are people who have been with this company for years and have worked hard to receive certain benefits, but now they are being taken away,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right for those people.”