For the unemployed or employed who hope to secure company-sponsored health care, the good news is that certain companies offer that benefit to part-timers. And some part-time workers who obtain temporary seasonal work may find unexpected long-term careers.
The bad news is that many companies expect to pare down their health care benefits because of rising health insurance costs. Walmart told employees this month it will no longer health benefits for new part-time workers starting next year. Overall health insurance premiums across the country increased 9 percent in 2011, nearly three times the rate of inflation and the most since 2005, a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust in September showed.
But there are still companies that are offering health benefits for part-time employees, and don't be fooled into thinking that only teenagers get part-time gigs in retail, especially seasonal jobs. Job-hunters in their 40s and 50s and beyond are finding work in unexpected places also.
Here are 7 companies that offer health care benefits to its part-time workers, with a little something for everyone:
All Target "team members" who work as little as two and a half days a week are eligible for health care coverage after six months, according to Erin Madsen, Target spokeswoman. Madsen said the company is "very proud" of its current medical plans and programs, which include 100 percent coverage for recommended preventive care, no lifetime maximum limits and no pre-existing conditions.
All employees have access to other benefits, including free flu vaccinations, a 24-hour nurse hotline, and Weight Watchers discounts.
Since 1988, Starbucks has offered "a comprehensive compensation program" that recognizes and rewards employees, or "partners," as the coffee company says, according to Alan Hilowitz, Starbucks spokesman.
This benefits package includes "competitive base pay, comprehensive health care for eligible full and part-time partners, with an average of 20 hours per week, equity in the company in the form of Bean Stock, a 401(k) savings plan with employer match, tuition reimbursement, short-term disability, paid vacation time, and product discounts."
Based in Seattle, Starbucks has been named by FORTUNE magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America every year since the list's inception 13 years ago, ranking number 18 in 2010.
This year, Lands' End will hire approximately 2,700 employees to work in its call center and distribution centers for the holiday season, with many part-time workers receiving dental, vision and life insurance benefits. The retailer begins recruiting for its peak season in July and up to 50 percent of the seasonal employees are re-hires, according to Molly Hawkins, Land's End spokeswoman.
Lands' End, based in Chicago and first established as a sailboat equipment company, has 14 retail locations including Lands' End Inlet and Lands' End Canvas stores. Employees at the Lands' End Shops at Sears are employed by Sears, which bought the company in 2002.
Lands' End offers ongoing part-time as well as seasonal employees dental, vision and life insurance benefit options, according to Hawkins, though part-time and seasonal hourly requirements are dependent upon each department.
Ongoing part-time and seasonal employees are eligible for the Lands' End and Sears employee discount, and have access to the onsite fitness facility and back up child care center. Seasonal employees who commit to returning the following holiday peak season receive extended benefits for the entire year.
Whole Foods "team members" regularly scheduled to work more than 20 hours but less than 30 hours per week are eligible for medical insurance upon hitting certain service hour thresholds. To be considered full-time employees, employees need to work 30 hours per week. Part-time employees are eligible to receive other benefits, including paid time off and a 20 percent store discount. Employees who voluntarily opt to participate in the "Team Member healthy discount incentive program" could receive up to an additional 10 percent store discount, according to Liz Burkhart, Whole Foods spokeswoman. Burkhart said employees select their benefits package through a company-wide vote every three years.
Stock options are also granted to all employees once they have accumulated 6,000 service hours.
Whole Foods Market also offers "gainsharing" to part-time workers, which is a program that enables workers to earn monthly dividends, such as "Labor Surplus payouts" from the excess labor budget of their individual teams.
Stephen Holmes, spokesman for Home Depot, said the company offers "an array of benefits to all part-time associates who have been with the company for at least 90 days, including dental, vision and limited medical. This includes a critical illness plan option."
Home Depot, based in Cobb County, Ga., calls itself the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,246 stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, among other countries. The company has over 300,000 employees.
UPS offers hourly employees full benefits, including medical/dental coverage and tuition assistance, according to the company website.
Most part-time positions are covered under collective bargaining agreements and health and wellness benefits may not kick in for part-timers until 12 months from the date of hire, according to Susan Rosenberg, UPS spokeswoman. These benefits do not apply to temporary seasonal workers who often work 4 to 8 weeks out of the busy holiday season.
"But we do have a comprehensive array once the employment period is met," Rosenberg said.
Many part-time employees are eligible for tuition assistance benefits. Rosenberg said 45 percent of newly hired part-time workers for UPS in 2010 were college students. The company has "Earn and Learn" programs at around 90 U.S. locations where students can balance school and part-time work, according to Rosenberg.
The company is trying to hire employees also through The UPSjobs Road Trip Challenge sweepstakes, an active social media recruiting program which encourages people to "share the news that UPS is hiring" increasing your chance to win a cash prize or gift cards.
Part-time employees may be eligible for health care, including dental and medical, if they average 20 hours of work a week after 180 days of employment.
Employees may be able to take advantage of Costco's in-house optical centers for vision care. Costco also has a pharmacy program with its in-house pharmacies for discounted co-payments on generic medications as low as $5, and a co-pay that is generally capped at 15 percent for branded drugs.
Employees at the hourly level may not be eligible however, for other benefits, such as paid holidays and 401(k) matching, according to Bob Nelson, Costco's vice president of financial planning.