[UPDATE] Today, Wegmans released this statement
regarding the company's plans for part-time employee health care benefits:
“Even though the new health care law is requiring some changes, we are not going to do anything that will hurt our employees. Wegmans will continue to offer health care benefits for part-time employees, but eligibility requirements will change. This change will not take effect for our existing part-time employees until 2015. We have met one-on-one with each impacted employee to reassure them and to let them know we are going to do everything we can to help them through these changes. Our proudest achievement has been our inclusion in Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list. We are there because we care deeply about our employees.”
Wegmans consistently makes Fortune magazine's list of Top 100 Companies to Work For, coming in at No. 5 this year
The company's reputation for being good to its employees is what makes a story published today by the Buffalo News so curious. The article
says that Wegmans is dropping health care benefits for part-time workers. The News confirmed the change with several Wegmans employees, the article says. But the article also says that Wegmans wouldn't confirm.
The News article does make an interesting point. The reporter spoke to a Buffalo insurance brokerage firm partner who says that, thanks to subsidies from Obamacare, the company's part-time employees may be better off buying insurance on their own. I'm not convinced that'll be the case, but I would be very happy if my skepticism is proven to be misguided.
Wegmans did tell the News that it expects health care reform to change some of its employee benefits offerings.
And the locally-based grocery chain certainly won't be the only company going down this path. If Wegmans feels justified in dropping benefits for part-time employees, other companies will, too. And the move sends a significant signal locally, since company CEO Danny Wegman is a respected business and community leader, as well as co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.