Why Hy-Vee Is Ending Its Employee Discount

Even employees can’t escape the high cost of groceries right now.

Hy-Vee giveth and Hy-Vee taketh away—temporarily, at least. The Midwest grocery chain has chosen to halt its employee discount program as a result of alleged "fraud and abuse," KCCI Des Moines reports.

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The Iowa-based company, which is popular with shoppers throughout the Midwest, began offering its employees a 10% discount on groceries beginning in 2019, but that perk is no longer listed as one of the benefits on the company's careers page.

KCCI Des Moines obtained an internal video sent to Hy-Vee employees in which Hy-Vee executive Georgia Van Gundy cites misuse of the discount as the reason for suspending the program companywide. More checks and balances are needed, Van Gundy says, and the company plans to retool the program before reintroducing it.

What constitutes misuse, you might ask?

"We also have evidence of multiple employees having multiple families or households in various cities in various states using the discount, when, again, it was designed to be used by the employee and one other family member who lives in the same household," Van Gundy says in the video. According to KCCI, the company discovered one Hy-Vee employee's discount was used five times in five different states within one hour.

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"The discrepancies found were significant enough to signal a much broader issue that needed to be addressed immediately," Tina Potthoff, Hy-Vee's senior VP of communications, told Supermarket News.

Although the discount program has been temporarily discontinued, the company plans to evaluate and relaunch it by mid-April. Potthoff also noted that beyond the employee discount, benefits for Hy-Vee employees are competitive within the industry and include a 401k match, a wellness program, and more.

Businesses often highlight cases of employee theft as grounds for a widespread crackdown, but I must ask: Who hasn't shared their employee discount at one point or another? With grocery prices as high as they are right now, everyone could use a little help, and I don't blame Hy-Vee employees for sharing the wealth. Hopefully when the new program debuts in April, it finds an adjusted way to cater to extended families of employees rather than cutting them off from what might be some much-needed relief.

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