Lidl just announced it will give its part-time workers medical benefits, which Whole Foods just cut
- Lidl said Tuesday that it will provide medical benefits to all part-time employees starting January 1.
- The move will cost an estimated $9 million in the first year and continue to increase as Lidl expands, the company said.
- The announcement comes after Business Insider reported that Amazon-owned Whole Foods plans to cut benefits for part-time workers in 2020.
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Lidl said Tuesday that it plans to offer medical benefits to all US part-time employees starting January 1.
The change will affect about 30% of the discount grocer's US workforce, or roughly 1,200 employees, who will become eligible for medical benefits beginning in 2020.Lidl said it expects to invest $9 million in the initiative in the first year, with costs increasing as the grocer expands.
"It's an investment that's mutually beneficial," Lidl US Chairman Roman Heini told Business Insider. He said the change is expected to increase employee retention, and "increasing retention makes employees happier, which makes the customer happier."
In a press release on the announcement, Lidl highlighted the fact that it is expanding benefits availability "at a time when many retailers are cutting health benefits."
Whole Foods' benefit cuts ignited backlash among some lawmakers. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the move "part of the casual dehumanization of working people." Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted, "Your ability to get health care should not be dependent on the whims of your employer."Whole Foods said it was making the change "to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model."
Lidl workers can sign up for health benefits in November
Lidl on Monday announced the benefits changes to store leaders, Heini said.
The company plans to send postcards directly to its part-time workers to make sure they are aware of their new coverage eligibility.
All Lidl workers will be able to sign up for coverage during the company's open-enrollment period starting in November. The benefits available to part-time workers will be the same benefits currently available to Lidl's full-time employees, the company said.
Lidl operates more than 10,000 stores globally, including 70 US locations across nine states. The German discount chain opened its first US store in Virginia in 2017 and plans to open its 100th location next year.