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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Market Basket part-timers may be eligible for health insurance, unemployment

Government programs are gearing up to help thousands of part-time Market Basket employees throughout the state who will go without paychecks as of Sunday, although the situation is complicated by the fact that the company says they aren’t actually being laid off.

Starting Sunday, managers at the company’s 71 grocery stores have been told to schedule no hours next week for part-timers, who make up the large majority of staff. Company sales have fallen by 90 percent or more in the past two weeks during an employee-led company boycott, spurred by the firing of fomer CEO Arthur T. Demoulas in a long-running battle with his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas. ...

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Government programs are gearing up to help thousands of part-time Market Basket employees throughout the state who will go without paychecks as of Sunday, although the situation is complicated by the fact that the company says they aren’t actually being laid off.

Starting Sunday, managers at the company’s 71 grocery stores have been told to schedule no hours next week for part-timers, who make up the large majority of staff. Company sales have fallen by 90 percent or more in the past two weeks during an employee-led company boycott, spurred by the firing of fomer CEO Arthur T. Demoulas in a long-running battle with his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas.

Demoulas Market Basket CEO Felicia Thornton said in a statement Thursday that despite the directive, “All store directors as part of their normal responsibilities are able to and often do reduce hours but they need to make clear when doing so that the individuals are still employees of DSM.”

Nonetheless, state officials said Friday, many employees may be eligible for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

They may qualify for a special enrollment period that would enable them to purchase coverage on New Hampshire’s federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace www.healthcare.gov.

As an alternative, employees losing Market Basket-sponsored coverage could qualify for other types of coverage, such as COBRA, a federal program for short-term health insurance.

Depending on their income, the part-timers who have no hours might qualify for the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, a new program whose coverage begins Monday, Aug. 15.

To see whether they qualify, affected individuals can visit the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services online application page at www.dhhs.state.nh.us/dfa/apply.htm.

New Hampshire residents also can call the New Hampshire Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Division at 1-800-852-3416 or the state Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Health Protection Program, at 1-888-901-4999.

New Hampshire Department of Employment Security has been distributing materials to Market Basket stores in anticipate of layoffs or similar action. Its main Web page has a large noticed for “Market Basket/Demoulas Associates and Employees,” saying “If your hours have been reduced or you have been laid off, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.”

Claims can be filed online at www.nhes.nh.gov, or at the Nashua office, 6 Townsend West, or by telephone at 1-800-266-2252.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).