This is just a brief overview of this very complex issue, and does not address all factors involved in the calculation of the “large” employer threshold or the possible imposition of penalties.
For cities staffing a fire department with part-time employees, any part-time firefighter who works more than 30 hours per week is a full-time employee for the purpose of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act.
Fire departments may use part-time employees without having to offer them health care benefits as long as the part-time employees do not work more than 30 hours per week. This may involve hiring additional part-time firefighters and working them on a rotating system to keep the hours worked per firefighter to less than 30 per week.
Volunteers are not subject to the PPACA. Cities may continue to use volunteers and paid-on-call firefighters as described above, and those personnel are not considered employees for FLSA or for the PPACA.
Fire department administrators are encouraged to consult with their agency’s human resources department for more information on the PPACA and its applicability to fire department staffing.
Bianchi, Alden J. 2010. The “Employer Responsibilities” Requirement of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care act: A View from the Weeds. http://www.mintz.com/newsletter/2010/Advisories/0321-0410-NAT-HCR/web.html
Bianchi, Alden J. 2011. Treasury/IRS Propose Safe Harbor under Affordable Care act’s Employer Responsibility Rule for Determining “Household Income.” http://www.mintz.com/newsletter/2011/Advisories/1405-1011-NAT-ELB/web.htm
Internal Revenue Service. 2012. Notice 2012-58. Determining Full-Time Employees for Purposes of Shared Responsibility for Employers Regarding Health Coverage (§ 4980H). http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-12-58.pdf
Kaiser Family Foundation. 2012. Explaining Health Care Reform: How will the Affordable Care act affect small businesses and their employees? http://www.kff.org/health-reform/fact-sheet/explaining-health-reform-how-will-the-affordable-care-act-affect-small-businesses-and-their-employees/
Mulvey, Janemarie. 2013. Potential Employer Penalties Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41159.pdf