Why Many Maui Residents Work So Many Jobs

The following post is an opinion written by me Erika Hampton. It may not reflect those of ConsciousMaui.com or its affiliates.

Often I am asked why people on Maui work so many jobs. It is common in my experience on the island to have one person hold down 3 jobs. For example, one might be working a retail job during a couple of days during the week, while waiting tables at a restaurant on the weekend and preparing live orchids for retailers a couple of mornings a week. Once a person has attempted to become part of the workforce on Maui, they will see that there are many employers hiring for only two days a week. A quick search on Craigslist and you will see this in black and white.

There is more than one reason to explain why so many residents work multiple jobs.

Reason number 1. Maui is expensive. Housing, Food, Clothing, Vehicle, Vehicle registration, fuel etc.

Reason number 2. Health Insurance, this takes more explanation so, fasten your seat-belts.

Why so much of a need for part time help?

Employers are required by the State of Hawaii to offer health insurance for their “regular” employees.  “Regular” employees are those that work more than 20 hours per week and may earn a monthly wage of 86.67 times the minimum wage. As of January 1, 2018 the minimum wage is $10.10 X 86.67 = $875.37 per month. The employee health insurance benefit goes into effect after the 4th consecutive, 20 hour work week. Under the HPHCA, Hawaii Paid Healthcare Act, an approved prepaid health insurance plan must be provided by an employer to a “regular” employee who worked more than 20 hours per week for 4 consecutive weeks. Health Insurance does not include Dental or Vision coverage plans (those are an extra, usually to the worker).

How did they come up with a factor of 86.67?
Real quick, If all months were exactly 4 weeks, it would be 80 but months are longer  so  it’s 86.67.
40 (full time hour work week) x 52 (the number of weeks in a year) = 2080
2080 (# of hours worked per year) ÷ 24 (2 paycheck per month) = 86.67

Types of employees who will NOT legally be entitled to healthcare from their employer:
-those who work less than 20 hours per week;
-insurance and real estate salespersons that are paid only on a commission basis;
-seasonal employees;
-agricultural seasonal workers;
-family members working for son, daughter or spouse;
-children under 21 years of age employed by a parent;
-Federal, State and County employees.

Healthcare paid for by employers after a 20 hour workweek instead of 32, 36 or 40 hours.
Sounds like a great benefit doesn’t it? If only it were this simple. You see, many businesses are not making as much profit as they would like or need so business owners have found this state imposed requirement  is not affordable and have found ways to legally avoid paying this health care benefit for their workers here:

1. Employees are being hired to work 19 hours a week or less, 2 days X 8 hours = 16

2. Employee schedules will be staggered to avoid 4 consecutive weeks with 20 hours.

week 1 = 40 hours;
week 2 = 32 hours;
week 3 = 40 hours;
week 4 = 16 hours;
week 5 = 40 hours and so on…

Many employees are just happy to have a job so they go along with this.   It is understood that there are some very small businesses just starting out, businesses that legitimately do not currently have money available for this added expense. However, this is not always the case. If a business goes a certain amount of time without reaching a basic level of success, where the business can pay a livable wage and health benefits to the people building the business, the business may more accurately be described by your tax advisor as a hobby.

Paying employees is a cost of doing business. A restaurant owned can not dictate to Costco how much they are willing to pay for eggs, the price is the price and life goes on. The same is true in that we do not go to a restaurant and start haggling the price with the restaurant manager. Why should employees settle for less?

I know, I know, there are not always many good jobs and it can be hard to find work on the island that matches your experience. Likewise, with an unemployment rate currently at 2.3%, it is challenging for employers to find stellar employees.  Trustworthy, loyal people with strong work ethic, that are reliable and take pride in their work are highly sought after everywhere. Finding a balance of a livable wage, work done well and personal fulfillment can be a challenging endeavor.  It does not serve anyone; employee, customer, or employer to have a revolving door of staff members at an establishment.

The employee as the business owner’s number one customer.

People feel valued and appreciated in different ways. Some people strive for recognition. Nothing makes some people prouder than to reach the ranks of “Employee of the Month,” with a photo of their face in an 8″x 10″ frame hung on the wall next to a little placard. Many are thrilled to be taken out to lunch as a reward for work well done. Movie tickets are another way employers like to recognize an employees hard work. There are many ways to show appreciation but they don’t  pay the bills and sometimes it takes working 3 jobs is what it takes to make ends meet.

The reward for work well done …

As mentioned above the minimum wage in Hawaii is currently $10.10 per hour. Depending on who you speak to the livable wage on Maui is between $15 – $17 per hour. That is the livable wage for a single adult with no child. I would like to add “pets” to that last sentence, no child and no pets.

I am not saying that people should be paid well for doing a lousy job. If someone is not doing what they were hired to do, talk to them about it, give them additional training or, if the situation is not resolved, try to find a more qualified candidate. It is reasonable to expect to be paid what you provide. Know the value you provide.

The economist will argue that if we raise the minimum wage, prices will go up across the board.  Maui, being a exotic getaway destination of luxury known fine dining and pampering, people willing to work in the service industry are an absolute necessity. A necessity for which the affluent travelers that come here have no financial and no ethical problem paying.  The chefs, waiters, housekeepers, cashiers, baristas, and gardeners should be supported adequately by their emploment.

One way to help, in my opinion, is to offer discounts to locals; particularly those working in the service industry. Many local businesses offer discounts of varying degrees to locals already.  With proof of residency access to some parks and events are already free.  We want the people that live here to be able to afford to thrive here.  Solving the issues surrounding pay will have a direct and positive effect on so many other facets of life on the island.

Please follow us on facebook, we would love to hear your solutions to solving the cost of living situation on Maui.


Conscious Maui