A Simple Way Retailers Get Out Of Giving Workers Health Insurance

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Retail workers are the unhappiest of any industry, and it’s easy to see why.A vast majority — 71 per cent — don’t get health insurance, according to a report by Stephanie Luce at City University of New York and Naoki Fujita at the Retail Action Project. 

Retail companies get away with this by classifying employees as part-time, even if they work longer hours, according to the report. 

Luce and Fujita interviewed more than 400 New York City retail employees for their report. 

In one anecdote, a sales associate described how his employer refused to give him benefits: 

“I work 32-45 hours a week, but they classify me as “part-time” to avoid giving me any benefits. The only people considered “full-time” employees are managers. Sales associates like me aren’t eligible for paid days off, health benefits, or even paid sick days. So when I am forced to call in sick, I lose out on my paycheck. Since my employer doesn’t provide me with health benefits, I have to rely on Medicaid. My only hope is that I am transitioned to management.”

One myth about retail is that most employees are high-schoolers who are on their parents’ insurance plans. More than half of retail workers have college degrees, according to the National Retail Federation. And 70 per cent are over the age of 24. 

Unsurprisingly, the National Retail Federation said it was “dismayed” when the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in June. The organisation said that the ruling unfairly penalised employers and would be financially devastating. 

Companies like Starbucks, Target and Whole Foods have managed to offer benefits to employees. It’s time for other big retailers to do the same. 

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