The Health Care Shuffle
I had a chance to catch up with some friends who are at the bottom of the system. Both work in retail. Both are part time students. Both work hard and creatively. Both are noticing weird behavior from their employers.
They work in different cities in different parts of retail.
Since the first of the year, managers have been rotating and schedules have been shifting. As the noise settles down, the managers are slotting 50 hour weeks while the rest of the store works 27 to 30 hours.
In both cases, this amounted to a 20% cut in pay and a potential loss of benefits. (Their benefits are still intact but won’t remain so when the next ‘look back’ happens.) Very little is explained.
From their POV, it looks like management is lurching.
Their companies are maneuvering through the challenge of figuring out who does and doesn’t get benefits. Since it’s over their pay grade, they only understand the bluntest impacts of the story.
Ultimately, they will end up paying for their own health insurance.
It’s not really a surprise. While it is a momentary inconvenience, what happens next is pretty obvious. While their employers have figured out how to dodge this bullet, they only get a temporary reprieve.
Workers who pay for their own benefits are significantly more mobile that those who don’t. Up until last year, a worker who got sick (or had a family member who got sick) was bound to the current employer for a very long time. Preexisting conditions made a whole range of people uninsurable if they left the current boss.
Now, after the first initial pinch, these low level workers are freer than they’ve ever been..
The employers who recognize this short term windfall will end up paying for their employees healthcare in the long haul. Workers who get saddled with new bills seem to always want raises.
The interesting question is whether the employers who dodge this first bullet really understand that they are creating an attrition problem that will be accompanied by wage increases.
It doesn’t look like it. They are predictably going for the short money.