Starbucks will match employees' 401(k) contributions this year, something it used to do automatically but said in December that it would begin deciding on a year-by-year basis.

Starbucks will match employees’ 401(k) contributions this year, something it used to do automatically but said in December that it would begin deciding on a year-by-year basis.

“Our progress over these past few months has given us the opportunity to fund the company discretionary match for the 2009 plan year,” CEO Howard Schultz said in a memo to employees today.

Last week, Starbucks announced a better-than-expected profit for its most recent quarter.

The 401(k) match was approved by Starbucks’ board of directors last week and will be deposited in early 2010 for employees who meet 2009 match-eligibility requirements.

Starbucks also plans to give pay raises to eligible workers, Schultz said in the memo.

Workers will see larger increases than usual in the amount they pay for health care coverage next year, he said, because of rising costs that have made health care almost as large an expense as green coffee for Starbucks.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com