- Lidl US announced it will begin offering medical benefits to its 1,200 part-time U.S. employees beginning next year, regardless of how many hours they work, according to a press release.
- The retailer plans to invest $9 million in health care costs in the first year, with contributions growing as the retailer expands. Part-time employees working less than 30 hours currently have access to dental and vision insurance.
- Lidl currently has more than 70 stores in the U.S. In a statement, Lidl US chairman Roman Heini characterized the initiative as one that would ensure a happier, more productive workforce.
With the U.S. unemployment rate firmly set below 4%, retailers are looking for new incentives to attract employees and keep retention rates high.
And because Lidl has ambitious growth plans, it needs to be able to attract a steady flow of applicants. Offering medical care to part-time employees hasn't been a historically common practice in the grocery industry, but research shows more retailers are offering medical benefits as a perk to gain and retain workers.
Still, the discounter has its work cut out for it. Companies like Kroger, Ahold Delhaize and Walmart have dangled tuition reimbursement, professional development, maternity leave and other benefits for employees in addition to raising minimum wages.
Amazon-owned Whole Foods raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour last year. But the company recently announced it will end healthcare benefits for nearly 2,000 part-time workers next year.
In a worker-driven labor force, individuals are moving from one employer to another based on perks. Some are defecting to the gig economy, which promises a more flexible work schedule and higher pay — though local governments and workers' rights groups are pushing for stricter regulations on employers like Uber and Instacart.