Employing Adjunct Instructors

Considerations for Employment of Adjunct Instructors

Starting in January 2015, employers will generally be obligated to offer healthcare insurance to employees who work 30 or more hours a week under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To comply with the future requirements of the ACA, the University needs to have clear baselines in determining course loads for full-time equivalents (FTEs) for non-tenure eligible or career track faculty whose only duties are teaching. While full-time course loads vary, the benchmark of fifteen credits has been determined to be the equivalent of full-time status (1.0 FTE) for instructional faculty with no advising or other duties.

Using this baseline, each credit hour is the equivalent of 2.67 working hours, or .067 FTE. Instructors on semester-to-semester contracts may become eligible for healthcare insurance under the ACA at .75 FTE if they teach 11 or more credit hours in single a semester. In some cases, departments may need to increase an instructional faculty member’s FTE to take into account labs, studio courses, advising, outreach, or other departmental assignments.

Given the need to track FTE/work hours to meet the future obligations of the ACA, we need to have a clearer alignment of titles with duties. To meet this need, departments are asked to limit the use of “adjunct” in Notices of Appointments for positions that do meet the eligibility requirements for State/University benefits. If changes in FTE are made after a Notice of Appointment has been drawn up, departments should revise individuals’ titles when possible.

FAQ: Benefits for Adjunct Faculty

University of Arizona employee benefits will remain the same. in 2015.  However, in 2015,  the definition of benefits-eligibility will be changing.  Employees hired on or after January 1, 2015 and who are expected to work at least 20 hours a week for 90 days (three months) or more will be eligible to enroll in ADOA- and University-sponsored medical, dental, vision, life, and short-term disability insurances.

View current University of Arizona employee benefits

The fifteen-credit benchmark is based on several calculations.  For example, the teaching load of TT faculty in some colleges identifies a course assignment with 20% of a faculty member’s workload (with two courses equivalent to a 40% teaching assignment).  However, in most colleges few NTT instructors actually teach fifteen credits because their classes may be more labor-intensive, or the instructors may be assigned to committees or additional duties beyond teaching their individual classes and holding required office hours.  The University benchmark of fifteen credits is the recommended baseline for assigning FTEs to instructors, but colleges may determine when a different FTE formula is appropriate for an individual’s assigned duties.

Since fifteen credits for a fifteen-week course is the general benchmark for determining full-time status, departments can calculate FTEs for courses that run less than fifteen weeks by using the basic formula of one credit per week.  Using that formula, instructors would be full-time if they taught five credits over a five week period or nine credits over a nine week period.

When using the fifteen-credit benchmark for full-time equivalency, departments have the latitude to adjust FTEs as appropriate to the individuals’ teaching assignments.  FTEs can be adjusted for courses that may be more labor intensive such as labs or studio courses or if the individual has additional assigned duties such as advising, outreach, or committee assignments.

Instructors are sometimes assigned additional courses after their Notice of Appointment (NOA) has been signed because of rising enrollments in a program, and those changes in workloads may change benefits-eligibility.  Complications with benefits-eligibility have also arisen because instructors are teaching in more than one department, and one of the departments may not be aware of that fact when drawing up a NOA.  These challenges with managing benefits-eligibility will continue, and there will be some cases where changes in titles are not feasible as part of making the change in the individual’s benefits-eligibility.