VIRGINIA BEACH -- The hours that thousands of part-time state employees work may be cut to avoid giving them health care benefits.
The new Affordable Care Act requires employers with at least 50 workers to provide health care for employees working at least 30 hours a week.
Governor McDonnell, a strong critic of the law, says the state can't afford it.
"We're going to see a number of our employees that might have worked 30 or 32 hours before, now be working 28 or 29, now that we don't have to get into the very expensive benefit mandates of Obamacare," says McDonnell.
Rue Collins White, director of Virginia's Department of Human Resource Management, sent an email to human resources directors about the Affordable Care Act advising that employees who work 30 hours or more per week would become eligible for health care benefits.
The email refers to language in the proposed budget bill which says, "Wage employees in the legislative, judicial, executive and independent branches of government may not work more than 29 hours per week on average per month."
White advises the agencies adopt a prudent staffing approach and implement the proposed restrictions now.
It's a letdown for workers like James Boyd, who thought they would finally get health care.
Boyd works for Tidewater Community College and although most weeks he works 30 hours, he often picks up more. When the Affordable Care Act was implemented, he thought he would finally get health care.
"When you're only working a certain amount of hours and then that gets cut back, it has a tremendous impact on your life because you plan according to what you normally make," says Boyd.
According to James Toscano, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, 876 employees at TCC are part-time. Out of that group, 181 will be affected by the reduction in hours.
"It's a challenge for the college. Obviously while we're pleased that majority of our part-time employees aren't affected by this change, there are certainly people who are valuable to us who are affected. As an organization, you're going to be as nimble as possible," says Toscano.
McDonnell says he's not sure how many employees will be affected statewide, but he estimates that it’s in the thousands.