- Amazon-owned Whole Foods will eliminate medical benefits for part-time workers effective Jan. 1, 2020, Business Insider reported. The change will affect part-time employees who work at least 20 hours per week. These workers comprise about 1,900 of the company's nationwide workforce, a 95,000-person crew. The company told Business Insider it was necessary "to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model."
- "We are providing Team Members with resources to find alternative healthcare coverage options, or to explore full-time, healthcare-eligible positions starting at 30 hours per week," the company said in a statement emailed to HR Dive. Part-time staff will still have a 20% "Team Member Discount, 401(k), PTO, Team Member Assistance Plan, Home and Auto Insurance, company discounts and online learning," it continued.
- One part-time employee told Business Insider anonymously that increasing her hours would result in childcare costs, while shopping for other coverage could potentially cost her more. She added the reason she had been with the company for 15 years was because of the healthcare coverage.
Whole Foods' parent company, Amazon, has received negative attention of late for a few of its employment practices. Amazon warehouse and distribution workers recently planned a recent walk-out on Prime Day to protest productivity quotas and ask for more job permanence, HR Dive's sister publication Retail Dive reported. It has also been reported that Amazon has a significant amount of its staff relying on public assistance to feed their families.
In contrast to Whole Foods' decision, some employers of hourly workforces have considered more benefits offerings for part-timers, including health and paid leave benefits, as they attempt to compete for talent in a tight labor market marked by high turnover.
Organizations could see more changes to how they offer healthcare in the near future. A proposal from the Trump administration, set to go into effect in 2020, could allow businesses to provide workers with funds that they can use to shop for healthcare on their own — and radically change employer-sponsored plans. By funding health reimbursement accounts, workers would have the option to shop for plans through the ACA or private insurers. Experts told HR Dive's sister publication Healthcare Dive that the move could reduce costs for employers and help workers move from one job to another, while others said that it will shrink health networks and increase out-of-pocket costs for workers.