Sodexo re-establishes health benefits for college employees

BOSTON—After booting several thousand cafeteria workers off its health care plan last year, the food service company Sodexo has had a change of heart.

The Associated Press reports that French food giant announced Thursday that it would reestablish health care benefits for many employees who have lost coverage since January.

Sodexo—which employs 4,800 cafeteria workers on 30 university campuses in Massachusetts, according to The Boston Globe—had originally argued that Obamacare was forcing the company to rethink the way it distributed health care benefits.

The Affordable Care Act (as had Massachusetts’s 2006 health care reform legislation) imposes heavy penalties on employers who fail to provide health coverage for full-time employees, but Sodexo managed to skirt those restrictions reaction the the national law by reclassifying many employees as part-time.

Someone who works more than 30 hours a week is legally considered a full-time employee. But when Sodexo started to use average hours clocked over a year to determine eligibility, many of its workers fell short.

Those people were often university cafeteria workers. Although cafeteria workers often log more than the requisite 30 hours during the school year, many fell short when Sodexo included the summer months that school cafeterias lie vacant into its weekly average calculations. That pushed them into part-time territory, leaving them to find health coverage on their own.

After changing course Thursday, the company says it plans to reestablish those workers as full-time employees, once again eligible for insurance.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

FSD Resources