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Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 10:05 am PT (01:05 pm ET)

Apple to extend full health benefits to its part-time employees

Starting in January 2010, part-time Apple employees who have been with the company for one year will receive full medical insurance coverage, as part of their compensation.

Gary Allen at ifoAppleStore reported that the benefits now only offered to full-time employee will be extended to part-timers, including those at retail stores, early next year. Those who work as little as 15 hours per week and have at least one year of tenure with the company are said to qualify, according to sources.

Apple's retail locations employ an estimated 9,900 part time workers who could benefit from the change. At a presumed average cost of $8,000 per year, per worker, that could reportedly amount to around $80 million in expenses.

Last quarter, Apple's brick-and-mortar stores brought in $1.867 billion in revenue, a 9 percent year-over-year increase. At the end of the September frame, 273 total stores were open. In all, each location brought in an average of $7.1 million in revenue in the three-month span.

Apple provides insurance coverage for individuals and their spouse, domestic, or same-sex partner. Up to 65 percent of each full-time employee's coverage is said to be currently covered by Apple, and the same policy will reportedly be extended to part-time workers.

"According to the sources, the improved medical benefit sprang from significant dissatisfaction that emerged over the past year among part-time company employees," the report said. "The input led to a company survey of the employees, intended to identify possible areas for improvement. A recurring topic of the feedback was improved benefits, and medical insurance in particular."

The move comes as Microsoft has made attempts to recruit Apple staffers for its own fledgling retail operation. Numerous reports have alleged that Microsoft has offered Apple retail store managers pay raises in an effort to lure them away, and asked those ex-managers to attempt to bring their most seasoned Apple employees with them.

Last week, coinciding with the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft opened its first retail store in Scottsdale, Ariz. An AppleInsider reader who attended the event said that at least one former Mac Specialist was seen working at Microsoft's store.

Apple's stores saw 45.9 million visitors in the last quarter alone. For the entirety of 2009, they raked in $6.5 billion in revenue, amounting to $1.4 billion profit. The retail outlets play an important role in Apple's market presence, as the company said half of the 670,000 Macs sold in its stores last quarter were to customers new to the platform.