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March 01, 2002  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Take-Home Pay Less Than Zero?

Is it possible for a school bus driver to bring home a negative paycheck? Apparently so. Dan Schmidt recently quit his job as a school bus driver for Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District in Wisconsin when he realized that he would have to pay the district $20 to $30 each pay period to continue to work there. Schmidt had retired earlier from another job, but started working as a school bus driver to qualify for health insurance benefits for himself and his wife. As a part-time employee (20 hours per week), Schmidt had to pay for 68 percent of his insurance premiums. With a salary of $8.80 per hour, Schmidt earned $352 for 40 hours of work over a two-week period. Meanwhile, he had a $354 deduction for his two-week health insurance premium. That left him with a $2 debt to show for his two weeks of work. Schmidt said some of his former colleagues are in similar straits, receiving paychecks for as little as 20 to 50 cents. “And this isn’t just a Wittenberg-Birnamwood problem,” Schmidt said. “All school districts are having the same problem.” Since leaving the district, Schmidt found a job as a bus driver for Marathon County. Although he gets paid less ($7.40 per hour), he takes home $125 to $200 because the county pays a greater share of insurance.

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