I sent this email to three members of the Technology Advisory Committee.
Hi – I just heard a crazy rumor and wanted to check it out with you.
I heard that the COCC IT Advisory Committee is recommending purchasing or has purchased some worker monitoring tools to be placed on computers to determine how much work people are actually doing at COCC.
This sounds like one of those wacky “Big Brother is watching” paranoid fantasies that seem to erupt in institutions with low morale so I’m thinking that it’s just a goofy rumor BUT I wanted to check it out.
Is there any truth to the rumor that faculty and staff will soon have their work stations monitored by the keystroke and/or that classrooms will have CCTV to make sure that teachers are teaching? And what about the ankle bracelets and time-clocks?
Please let me know as I’m planning to blog about this rumor.
I got back the following responses:
From Bob Reynolds: 'Nope.'
From Tina Hovenkamp: 'Kake, I missed the TAC meeting this past Monday, but this rumor sounds too strange to be true... Will the college pay by the keystoke, too? Boy, that could get the college bankrupt quickly considering the amount of work we all seem to be putting in even when away from "work."'
The response I got from Dan Cecchini was a bit more forthcoming:
Don’t know of any purchases or planned purchases of worker monitoring tools coming through or out of TAC.
During the TAC meeting the CFO’s office did raise an item about HR/ Payroll’s need for a way to get a detailed accounting of hours worked by employees at the college for compliance with the ACA. The point was raised about how faculty work hours are to be determined and recorded. This may be driven by the feds requiring colleges to keep a record of actual hours worked, but I’m not an expert on the ACA.
We have not had anything about CCTV come through TAC and ITS is certainly not driving any such initiative. If there are questions about CCTV system, I would think the logical place would be to ask the security office if they have any plans for such systems.
At first I couldn't figure out what ACA meant and then he told me it was the Affordable Care Act. So I asked him for further information: 'Dan -- I was thinking about this and comparing it to the rumor I heard and it sounds like the concern is not so much that faculty aren't working hard enough (that was part of the paranoid craziness in the rumor) but that part timers who aren't being covered by health insurance aren't being overworked. So the "tracking" however it's done would actually be to the benefit of both the college (to be sure it's in line with the law) and the part time people. Is my understanding correct?'
He replied, 'I think that staying in line with the law is a big concern from COCC's perspective. My current understanding is that if we are out of compliance with the ACA by not addressing coverage for eligible employees adequately (even one), the fines that have to be covered are substantial for the institution. Eligibility determination is not simple for non-FT employees. Again, I'm not to guru on this topic, but that is my understanding.'
So, the rumor that I first hear that seemed to be focused on a fear of administrators monitoring faculty hours is actually related to the school's fear of running afoul of the federal government. If a part time employee is actually working full time and not getting health care coverage, the school faces stiff penalties. So the question is, how to articulate and measure the differences between full time and part time employees. According to the IRS website covering Questions and Answers on Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions Under the Affordable Care Act:
"An employer identifies its full-time employees based on each employee’s hours of service. For purposes of the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions, an employee is a full-time employee for a calendar month if he or she averages at least 30 hours of service per week. Under the final regulations, for purposes of determining full-time employee status, 130 hours of service in a calendar month is treated as the monthly equivalent of at least 30 hours of service per week."
So it really is the feds requiring the school to measure the hours of service. Unless, of course, the college could provide health care for all. But it's important to remember that the pie isn't infinite.
And yet the Board let OSU out of their contract for that darn building!