Popular Northeastern grocery chain Wegmans has announced that in 2015, a year after President Barack Obama’s health care initiatives take effect, they will be cutting health-care benefits for some part time employees. Wegmans has a reputation for treating its employees well, and the decision to cut benefits for certain employees may actually improve working conditions at the company’s 81 stores.
Wegmans maintains that health care will still be offered to the majority of its employees after the policy changes in 2015, but the eligibility of part-time employees to receive health benefits will be updated to reflect the shifting health care landscape once the Affordable Health Care Act has been implemented.
“Even though the new health care law is requiring some changes, we are not going to do anything that will hurt our employees,” said Jo Natale, Wegmans’ director of media relations. “Wegmans will continue to offer health care benefits for part-time employees, but eligibility requirements will change. We have met one-on-one with each impacted employee to reassure them and to let them know we are going to do everything we can to help them through these changes.”
Wegmans, which was founded almost a century ago and remains family-owned, is well known for its excellent treatment of its employees, and has consistently been featured on Fortune’s list of the best companies to work. “Our proudest achievement has been our inclusion in Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list. We are there because we care deeply about our employees,” said Natale.
The Huffington Post spoke to Paul Fronstin, the director of the Health Research Program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, who explained that low-income workers like those who hold part-time positions at Wegmans will likely be better off getting health care coverage through Obamacare than through their jobs.
While Wegmans’ changes in the face of Obamacare are being received positively, other companies are making changes to their employee policies that will make conditions worse for part-time employees, either by reducing jobs altogether, reducing hours, are sharing workers between operations in an effort to avoid paying health care costs.