After a public outcry and resistance from college administrations, the dining services contractor for the state’s public colleges has revised a controversial policy decision that critics said would strip many employees of their company benefits.
Sodexo, the France-based food services giant, announced last fall that it was reworking how it defined the qualifications for “full time” in order to match the Affordable Care Act.
The change would have revoked full-time status from anyone who didn’t work an average of 30 hours a week over a 52-week span – a problem, critics said, for employees at schools who would lose their status because of summer vacation.
Critics, who organized a number of demonstrations on the University of Vermont campus, said the change was being used by the company as an excuse to take benefits away from employees and save money.
Sodexo announced last week that while the new definition of full time stands, they have modified the policy to allow seasonal workers to be more likely to be eligible for benefits.
“For those seasonal employees who average 30 hours over the portion of the year their unit is open, they’re going to receive a credit,” said Sodexo spokesman Enrico Dinges.
While the employees still won’t be paid during summer hours they’re not working, the time credit will allow employees to keep their full-time status, Dinges said.
He said about 30 Vermont-based employees will benefit from the change.
“These were employees who were not benefit eligible for [the] 2014 period, who, with this credit, may become eligible for the 2015 benefits period,” Dinges said.
The University of Vermont and Vermont State Colleges asked Sodexo not to implement their new definition of full time until the administration could review it. While UVM still hasn’t issued a determination on that, Dinges said Sodexo management across the country is scheduling meetings with clients to explain the new change.