I'm disappointed in companies that are turning their employees into part-time workers and cutting health insurance benefits to save money ahead of Obamacare. But I'm also proud of companies that put their employees first. I plan to become a loyal customer to businesses such as Starbucks Coffee Co. According to a recent article by Reuters, Starbucks doesn't plan to cut benefits due to the U.S. Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the United Parcel Service has cut non-union employee spouses from the company-sponsored health insurance if they can get coverage through their own jobs, according to another Reuters report. Of the 33,000 spouses covered by the health plan, about 15,000 will lose their spousal coverage.
Creating passive-aggressive employees
I think ultimately, companies that cut corners pay the price in the long run with passive-aggressive employees who don't work as hard as they would have worked. Employees may resent the fact that their spouses were thrown off their insurance. Some stay-at-home moms or dads might be forced to return to work, causing more family strife. On the other side, companies that value their workers foster loyalty. As a consumer, I want my dollars to support companies that make life better for my family members and friends.
Competing for new workers
As a parent of two young adult children, I'm worried about whether they will find jobs that offer excellent health care plans. They have found many companies only want to hire part-time workers in order to avoid the extra costs associated with providing health care coverage. I'm not as worried about myself because I know my husband works for a great company that offers spousal coverage if I ever became laid off from my full-time job. Traditionally, companies have stayed competitive by offering excellent benefits including health benefits, vacations and matching 401(k) contributions.
Breaking up marriages
I don't mind paying just a little bit extra so that I know the person serving me my green tea frozen drink can afford to stay married. A recent article by MarketWatch said denying coverage to spouses could be traumatic for families. I also think cutting workers' hours can have a negative impact on marriages. I have male friends who are holding onto their professional part-time jobs in order to hold onto their girlfriends because the image of having a good job is more important than the reality of lower pay and no benefits. Once married, though, it's hard to keep up the money charade.
Starbucks evidently makes healthcare available to part-time employees working 20 hours a week or more. For anyone who has ever worked a stressful job, 20 hours can often seem like 40 hours. It's only right to provide health care insurance to those who work hard for their money. According to Reuters, Obamacare forces companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance for those who work 30 hours or more. Some people are lobbying for 40 hours to be the cut-off. Those lobbyists are making a mistake.
Ultimately, the consumer has the most control over what companies do. I just hope it's not too late to send the message that we want our families and neighbors to be treated with respect.
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