Even Seasonal Workers Offered Benefits at REI
By George Anderson
To be eligible for health benefits from REI, workers need to be employed by the company for 30 days. That’s it.
Beginning in January, the retailer will begin offering health benefits to all employees regardless of how many hours they work as long as they meet the 30-day requirement.
The move will affect roughly 2,000 workers at the company who are not currently eligible for benefits under the existing package, which provides for employees who have worked an average of 20 hours a week and have been with REI for six months or more.
REI estimates the cost of expanding the plan will run around $500,000 a year. The company is hoping that it will help it improve employee retention levels. REI’s annual turnover is currently running at about 50 percent, much lower than most companies in the retail space.
Michelle Clements, vice president of human relations for REI, said the expansion of health coverage to all employees should benefit workers, the company and customers.
“The customer really can’t tell the difference between part-time and full-time staff,” she told The News Tribune. “Being able to retain an employee who is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the outdoor experience is important.”
Under the new plan, REI will pay 60 percent of medical benefits, with employees paying a monthly premium of about $41 for medical and dental coverage. The plan has a $150 deductible.
As a point of contrast, the piece in The News Tribune pointed to the recent decision by Mervyn’s to move all full-time hourly employees to part-time status. Mervyn’s will not provide health coverage benefits for part-timers in the new year. As result, about 15 percent of the staff in Mervyn’s stores (1,200 full-time and 3,600 part-time) will no longer be eligible for health benefits as of March 2006.
Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to the health benefit decisions made by REI and Mervyn’s? –
George Anderson – Moderator