Starbucks employees continue to get paid during COVID-19 outbreak

From March 20, the global coffeehouse chain will continue to pay workers for 30 days, regardless if they report for work or not.
By: | March 25, 2020
Topics: News | US

In a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Starbucks announced last week (March 20) that it will close customer access to the cafes of all company-operated Starbucks stores across the US and Canada, shifting instead to a drive-through operating model.

At the same time, Starbucks committed to paying all Starbucks US and Canada retails partners for the next 30 days, whether they come to work or not. Or, as Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks suggested, no worker should have to choose between work and their health.

“It is the responsibility of every business to care for its employees during this time of uncertainty, shared sacrifice and common cause,” Johnson wrote in an open letter. “I hope to see many business leaders across this country doing all they can to retain jobs, pay employees, continue benefits, and demonstrate compassion as they make critical decisions. Not every decision is a financial one.”

In addition to paying workers for 30 days, Starbucks is offering support in the form of extended childcare benefits, a new mental health benefit, and the introduction of “catastrophe pay”, where employees who have been diagnosed with, exposed to or in close contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19, will be paid up to 14 days.

In the UK, where the government has imposed a mandatory three-week lockdown that will see all non-essential services closed down, uncertainty over job security is beginning to rise. To alleviate workers’ increasing concerns and protect jobs, the UK government has pledged to pay the wages of employees unable to wok due to COVID-19.

The UK government will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages up to £2,500 a month. The wage subsidy will apply to firms where bosses have already had to lay off workers due to COVID-19, with the caveat that these workers are brought back into the workforce and instead granted a leave of absence.

Calling these “unprecedented measures for unprecedented times,” chancellor Rishi Sunak said the move should enable workers to keep their jobs, even if their employer could not afford to pay them.