Hours kept low to avoid healh-care qualification?

Fri, 05/20/2005 - 12:00am -- jonahsmith
Starbucks Forum: 

Hey everybody,

I'm convinced that Starbucks is purposefully keeping me under the required 240 hours per quarter to qualify for healthcare. Has anyone else seen this happen at their stores?

Submitted by haydeegomez on

Yes, unless you are a shift supervisor, you will end up averaging less than 20 hours per week (and thus you will not be eligible for benefits. You might get 24 hours for a few weeks, then 16.5, then 12.25, then 15.25, then 20, then 16, then 12, then 8.75.

Even worse, you might initially average 20 hours per week, and you will get an enrollment form (for health benefits) in the mail. Then, your hours will start getting cut so that you are not eligible for benefits.

There was one barista in my store who worked for the company for 7 years. She was getting health benefits. Starbucks gave her about 24 hours per week.

If you don't get enough hours, management will encourage you to "call other stores" to cover shifts to get more hours. However, there is still no guarantee of the minimum number of hours you will get.

There was one shift supervisor in my store who did average over 20 for one quarter, so she got the benefits. Still, she had to pay for them out of her paycheck. However, later, Starbucks cut her hours so that she was no longer eligible for benefits.

If you are one of the very few employees who get enough hours, there is still no consistent guarantee. Of course, if you had to take time off work to visit the doctor for a health reason, your hours would be cut so that you no longer qualify for benefits.

Submitted by haydeegomez on

Another thing----at least where I used to work (in Santa Barbara, California), hours worked were rounded to the nearest MINUTE.

Also, eligibility for health insurance based on averaging 20 hours per week in a quarter was based on the number of hours worked, to the nearest minute.

"Partners", or employees, were often scheduled 19.75 hours, just below 20 hours per week. Also, say the store closed to the public at 9 p.m. Closing shifts would be scheduled to end at 9:30 p.m. However, shift supervisors were urged to close the store as early as they could, sometimes at 9:12 p.m, 9:18 p.m, or 9:22 p.m. This would result in a reduction in hours.

Additionally, suppose the store opened at 5 a.m., and you were scheduled the "opening shift," which would start at 4:30. Sometimes, the shift supervisor would arrive at 4:32 a.m., open the store, and you ended up clocking in at 4:33 a.m. This is a 0.05 hour decrease.

Submitted by nycpartner on

For over 5 years I have worked in Seattle and New York as a barista and now a shift supervisor. I have never had ANY difficulty getting enough hours to qualify for my benifits. Attending college 99'-03' FULL-TIME and working another day job which limited my availability to evenings and weekends, the only problem i had regarding hours was trying to get rid of some so i could catch up on sleep or homework, and i still got enough hours for my benifits. (usually it was the lazy, first world, suburban/urban-ite employees who wouldnt take any of my shifts even though they were the ones complaining most about the hours they were not getting)
It has been my experience that the employees who get less hours are usually the employees who suck at this EASY, ELEMENTARY AND SIMPLE job.

Submitted by haydeegomez on

To NYC Partner----maybe in Seattle and NYC it is different---maybe it is easier to qualify for benefits in my locations.

But in my county, even the employees who worked really hard consistently and took their jobs seriously got deprived of hours to qualify for benefits.

And apparently, there are other people in other parts of the country who have similar complaints to mine.

Of course, I had OPEN AVAILABILITY and was only getting 12-16 hours; so were other employees. We were repeatedly told to "call other stores" to cover shifts if we wanted more hours. So we did that. However, even by covering shifts at other stores, there still were not enough hours to qualify for benefits. Of course, there was a "Now Hiring" sign on the door.

What's worse is that Starbucks advertises its health care package available to employees who average 20 hours per week. Now technically, this is not false advertising because it's true. What Starbucks doesn't mention, however, is that most employees will not end up averaging the 20 hours per week required for benefits.

And Starbucks rounds the time worked to the nearest minute. So if you are three minutes short, you will not be eligible for benefits.

Submitted by drance201 on

Um, I am just wondering if everyone has talked to their store managers. I have had no problem staying above 20 hours when I needed benefits and have been at SBUX for over 2 years.

Staffing is a constantly a problem when partners are quitting especially when the holiday/summer seasons comes around and a bunch of new partners are hired (some of whome will undoubtedly quit or be fired). During these times, I have sometimes needed to cover a couple of shifts to make the hours, but my managers (6 over the years) always worked with me.

Furthermore, the costs for health coverage Do NOT come out of store budget as far as I know and do not impact management bonuses. Seeing as this is the case, there is no rational reason for them to be purposely keeping you under 240 hours.

Submitted by southbux on

I think the company as a whole does try to save money on health insurance and the its quite obvious how they do it (and quite brilliant I might add.)

Who needs Starbucks health care probably less than anyone else out there? Student workers. Many of them are covered under their parents insurance or by their school's insurance so Starbucks insurance plan is of no consequence to them. If you look at the demographic of a lot of our stores we have a great deal of student workers and young workers who are not all that concerned about health insurace so they don't buy into the plan.

People who do not buy into the plan do not cost Starbucks a dime.

Starbucks can still say it offers health insurance to all people who work 20 hours or more a week. But that does not necessarily mean we are all accepting the offer.

Starbucks however, looks good by making this offer.

Student workers who are not using the health insurance and still getting paid crap ARE BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.

I don't know whether or not there is a secret directive for management to keep employees under the necessary amount of hours to be eligible for benefits. It sounds a little far fetched but it is by all means possible and all partners should be on the lookout for such behavior by management.

I would be interested to find out though how many of the 100,000 or so Starbucks employees are enrolled in one form of the health coverage or another. I would also be interested to find out if Jim Donald or Howard Schultz are participants in one of the plans because whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

Submitted by port74 on

Starbucks is not purposely cutting hours because they don't want to pay for benefits. What the hell are you people talking about????? Talk to your managers, swap a shift. Do something about it. Help yourselves. Take initiative. Your SM is not trying to keep you under 20 because they don't want you to have benefits. That's ridiculous.

Submitted by southbux on


Just because people are frusterated doesn't mean they don't know what they are talking about. Because Starbucks is so big and you have so many different store managers with a wide array of different attitude malfunctions and a lot of autonomy there will be managers who do bad things.

The only way to counterbalance managements absolute power and ensure that injustice is not committed by any level of management from Howard Schultz on down is for the workers to organize into a union. When that is accomplished management will think twice before acting in a way that is unjust. Management knows that workers who are educated and thusly organized will respond quickly to any form of injustice management might bring upon them.

Remember that the air you breathe is there even though you can't see it. Just because we don't know about something doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Submitted by cheapwh0re on

If you explain to your store manager that you need hours to meet your quarterly 240 hours, they will adjust it as best they can to meet your needs. My current store has two partners that feared they were in danger of losing their benefits and when they talked to my manager, the problem was solved.

Also, your manager has no clue [unless they ask you] if you've requested the benefits packages or not. It's all done via postal mail and confidential. If you think you're low on hours for the quarter, let them know. It's their job to accomadate you in success.

Submitted by southbux on

The cheapwh0re method to maintaining insurance... (see above)... assumes a lot. First it assumes your manager has extra hours to give you. Second it assumes your manager cares enough to give you those hours. In a perfect world this method works to maintain the 20 hour a week average.

But we don't all work in cheapwh0re's little oasis where we can take refuge from our not so perfect Starbucks managers. We in fact work in stores where managers have to be sure not to go over the labor budget for any given If it comes between health insurance for you and a healthy bonus for the manager coming in consistantly under the labor budget what do you think will happen?

Sure you can go pick up shifts from people who don't want them because they don't really need health insurance anyways, not as much as you do. You can go pick up shifts at other stores where you really don't know anyone or how the store flows or where anything is.

The point is how can Starbucks put themselves out there as a company that offers health insurance to all employees that work 20 hours a week or more and then have even a fraction of us have to jump through hoops to maintain this 20 hours a week.

Where most companies have full-time/part-time definitions for its workers Starbucks doesn't. If you are a barista/shift supervisor you are part time and your hours are whatever management deems appropriate, if you are in management you are full time, work 40 hours or more and ASMs are the only ones who get paid overtime. I have yet to see a deviation from this model at Starbucks. I can get scheduled to work 40 hours this week and 17 next week and thats my problem.

The argument that all retail jobs are that way so why should this one be different is stupid and weak and I'm not even going to address it. Its a managers job to make sure your store is making money thusly accomadating Starbucks in its market domination. I'm sorry if the language is harsh its just that I don't do flowery and I don't do hype. Stay strong and stick together everyone, we'll get through this.