“Before January, it was a smack on the wrist if anyone went over 25 hours — they got an email scolding them saying, ‘You went over 25, try not to do that,’” she told BuzzFeed News in an interview on the condition of anonymity, given she still works at the company. “But now it’s become really serious…they’ve threatened to write up managers and every person that goes up over 25 hours.”
Alice is one of five current and former part-time Staples employees who spoke with BuzzFeed News about the retailer’s strict new policies this year, now that the Affordable Care Act provision requiring companies to offer health insurance plans to full-time employees has come into effect. Many others on a Staples employee subreddit corroborate these accounts, speaking of managers and associates getting written warnings and threats of termination for working even 10 minutes above the 25-hour weekly limit.
The employees who spoke with BuzzFeed News said they are now only scheduled up to 20 hours a week if they work in one of the worst-performing stores, and 23 hours a week at others. They all used to get more than 30 hours during good weeks. They said they are frequently told to leave early now, even if they’re scheduled for additional hours. All told, it can result in $200 to $400 in lost wages per month for each employee. For these low-income workers, that’s a lot of missed groceries, tanks of gas, utility payments, and, paradoxically, health care expenditures.