I've blogged about how my father always took time to listen to his employees and let them know that they were a part of his extended family. He made sure they were cared for. In fact, he was one of the first employers to offer health care coverage to his people.
To this day, I firmly believe in the importance of the health of our employees and, in particular, the vital role that health benefits play in keeping them and their families healthy. On a national level, there is a robust debate around health care and who bears the responsibility for making sure that Americans stay healthy. While that discussion continues, Marriott International is committed to honoring the values and traditions established by my parents almost 80 years ago.
During these tough times, it has become more difficult for employees at many U.S. companies, including Marriott, to work a sufficient number of hours to continue to qualify for health benefits. An employee who is worried about losing his, or her, health care coverage can't be expected to be at their best in the workplace. For a business to be healthy, employees and their families need to have access to quality health care.
For that reason, we have taken steps to ensure that our full-time employees in the U.S. who are working reduced hours will not lose their health care coverage in 2009. Through the remainder of the year, we have suspended measuring hours worked to maintain health care benefits. The only exception is in the state of Massachusetts, in order to comply with specific state laws related to health care.
The current discussion on health care reform in our country is of the utmost importance, and finding the right solution is essential to the future of our nation. In the meantime, helping our people maintain their health so that they can achieve their very best remains a top priority at Marriott.
I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.