Hundreds of Whole Foods employees are losing their medical benefits.
A company spokesperson told Business Insider that the cuts were being made “to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model.”
Cutting healthcare for part-time workers can disproportionately impact specific groups of people, including working parents and older employees. Many working mothers, especially, already have a difficult time finding jobs with flexible schedules that make time for childcare, provide financial security, and offer critical health and medical benefits.
Amazon — owned by Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world and valued at more than $110 billion, per Forbes — has been mired in controversy over its handling of its employees in recent years. The tech giant made headlines over the summer when workers worldwide went on strike on Prime Day to protest poor working conditions and unfair pay.
Since acquiring Whole Foods in 2017, the Amazon’s treatment of Whole Foods workers has also fallen under scrutiny. Shortly after market employees moved to unionize in September 2018, Amazon raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour — but, as Eater reports, the move raised concerns about Amazon’s efforts to quell unionization.
The company noted that Whole Foods workers can “explore full-time, healthcare-eligible positions” — as in, work more hours per week — and said they would provide resources to help employees find alternative healthcare coverage, though they did not appear to specify what that entails. Other employment benefits, including a 20% in-store discount, will not be affected.
Whole Foods’ healthcare policy change takes effect on January 1.