Come January, Bozeman Health will have a $15 minimum wage, which health system officials said will lead to boosting the pay of roughly 1,100 employees.

Edie Willey, with Bozeman Health human resources, said the decision is part of an effort to retain workers and stems from employees saying the health system’s pay “is just not cutting it.”

She said the system’s base starting wage is $11.50.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve heard repeatedly that our employees are having a hard time making ends meet in Bozeman and the cost of living keeps going up,” Willey said.

The increase, which will go in place Jan. 1, applies across Bozeman Health sites that include workers in Belgrade, Bozeman and Big Sky.

Bozeman Health has nearly 2,400 employees. Roughly 300 of those workers make less than $15 an hour.

Once the minimum wage kicks in, Willey said an additional 800 employees making between $15 and $20 an hour will also see an increase.

She said the change in pay will hopefully help the system hold onto workers in hard-to-keep positions within areas like food and cleaning services.

“We recognize the high cost of living is keeping many of our employees from being able to stay here in Bozeman,” Willey said. “I think any employee making less than $15 an hour, their loyalty is to making sure ends meet each month.”

Billings Clinic — which is planning an expansion in Bozeman — did not supply its base pay to the Chronicle Friday.

“Billings Clinic is committed to continuing to provide competitive pay rates and benefit packages in the areas where we have a presence, and we regularly evaluate and update those rates,” the health system said in an emailed statement.

Bozeman Health isn’t the only major employer in town to recently decide it’s time to set a minimum wage. The city of Bozeman adopted a plan last year to create an employee minimum wage. This year, that minimum hit $14 an hour.

Bozeman Health also announced this week it’s partnering with MyVillage, a business that helps establish in-home childcare programs. Willey said the deal will create daycare options for hospital employees for an average of $800 a month.

John Hill, Bozeman Health president and CEO, said in a press release it’s another effort to support employees.

“We’ve heard from our employees that having childcare options would help alleviate a stress and worry that many in our Bozeman Health family struggle with on a consistent basis,” Hill said.

MyVillage co-founder and CEO Erica Mackey, who lives in Livingston, said Montana has enough licensed educators to support 40% of the children in need of paid care.

The partnership with Bozeman Health allows MyVillage to increase the number of in-home child care providers in and around Gallatin and Park counties. The deal also provides Bozeman Health employees with first dibs to enroll their children.

Bozeman Health officials said they expect the first in-home child care option to be available in 2020 with 100 slots for kids.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

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