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Nine big companies that offer benefits for part-time workers

Benefits are hard to find for people working a part-time job. These nine companies offer benefits freely to even their part-time workers. It might be time for a career shift.

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As companies compete for qualified part-time workers, many have realized that offering a benefits package is a great way to attract the best employees. Some offer benefit packages that extend far beyond medical coverage and often include dental, vision, tuition reimbursement, and even childcare costs. While many small businesses also offer terrific perks for part-timers, consider these well-known larger companies with excellent part-time benefits.

1. Starbucks

Starbucks offers employees who work at least 20 hours a week something called "Your Special Blend," which is a unique combination of perks, health benefits, and assistance. Eligibility starts after an employee has worked at least 240 hours over a three-month consecutive period. Specific health benefits are determined based on the employee's location and the proximity to health care professionals. With that said, most part-time employees receive coverage for hospitalization, office visits, lab tests and x-rays, emergency care, prescription drugs, and mental health treatment, including chemical dependency.

Along with health benefits, part-time employees are also eligible for dental, vision, disability, and life insurance coverage. Starbucks' robust package doesn't stop there; they also offer college tuition reimbursement, adoption assistance, and short-term counseling for stress related issues.

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2. Whole Foods

After a predetermined probationary period, Whole Food employees, who work 20+ hours a week, are eligible for health benefits. While not as robust as full-time benefits, they are still significant, especially when combined with their "Personal Wellness" program where part-time employees can earn up to $1,800 annually to cover health deductibles and other out-of-pocket health expenses.

Another nice perk of part-time work at Whole Foods is an employee discount of at least 20%, sometimes more depending on the specific store. Also, it's worth noting that domestic partners are eligible to receive the employee discount, too.

3. United Parcel Service (UPS)

According to the UPS website, they proudly offer all part-time employees the same benefits package that full-time workers receive. This includes medical, dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage. I've personally known several self-employed dads who took part-time jobs at UPS, loading and unloading trucks, simply to get the amazing benefits for their families. They also have a strong tuition assistance program designed to "assist employees in furthering their educational development… in an ongoing effort to recruit, retrain and develop qualified individuals."

4. Costco

Costco also offers generous part-time benefits after new employees have worked 600 hours or 180 days, whichever comes first. Benefits include health coverage (with bi-weekly payroll contributions), dental, vision, and pharmacy, as well as childcare assistance and life insurance. Part-time Costco employees have the option of enrolling their spouse and children into the benefits program, too. Also, from the Costco website, "employee-paid premiums are withheld pre-tax, which means you get to keep more of your hard-earned money." Yet another cool money-saving perk of working for the popular warehouse club.

5. Lowe's Home Improvement

New part-time hires at Lowe's are immediately eligible to enroll in medical, dental, vision, short-term disability, life insurance, critical illness, fixed indemnity, 401K, and an employee stock purchase plan. Unlike other employers listed in this article, employees must apply for benefits within 31 days of hire. It's also important to note that part-time employees benefits don't begin until the date that enrollment is completed.

6. Staples

Staples has a strong benefits package in place for part-time employees. Employees, and their children and spouses, are eligible for enrollment after 60 days of employment. The medical plan is currently via AETNA and costs employees approximately $24 per paycheck. That number rises to $65 if you're also covering dependent children and/or a spouse. Oddly, Staples doesn't offer benefits to part-time employees in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Washington, and North Dakota.

7. Home Depot

The benefits package at Home Depot is available to both part-time hourly and full-time hourly employees. While only full-time employees are eligible for medical benefits, part-timers can still get dental, vision, short-term disability, and life insurance. In addition, many part-time employees can qualify for tuition reimbursement, the employee stock purchase plan, and an employee discount on items purchased at their store.

8. Trader Joe's

The Affordable Care Act has changed how Trader Joe's deals with benefits for part-time workers. If you work 30+ hours per week, you're now eligible for medical, prescription, and dental coverage. Additionally, if you only work 15 hours per week, you're still eligible for basic dental and vision, which is a nice perk for such little hours worked.

9. REI

In recent years, REI has become the gold-standard when it comes to benefits for part-time employees. If you work at least 20 hours a week, you're eligible for the REI Flex Plan, which gives employees core health services like preventative care at no cost. The Flex Plan also pays for 85% of the premium for employee-only medical and dental coverage.

If you only work 15 hours per week on average, REI offers the Path Plan which pays for 60% of the premium for employee-only medical coverage. REI understands that a healthy workforce is a strong workforce, and strongly encourages employees to live a healthy lifestyle. They reward employees that complete "health and stewardship activities" by using a "points system" where racked-up points can be redeemed for prizes and exclusive discounts.

Whether you're a college student looking for work, or someone who desperately needs health benefits for your family, these companies are worth exploring during your job hunt. This is especially true if you need the health benefits more that you need the hourly salary that most of these part-time gigs provide.

This article is from Kyle James of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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