Starbucks extends catastrophe pay to employees until May 3, says lobbies will remain closed through then

Starbucks has announced it will be extending temporary benefits to its employees through at least May 3, including catastrophe pay for those who cannot–or choose not to–be at work amid the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. The coffee chain’s temporary benefits for employees was originally set to expire on April 19. “As we continue to navigate COVID-19 together, I want to first take a moment to share my deepest gratitude and appreciation for all of you,” wrote Rossann Williams, the executive vice president and president of U.S. company-operated business and Canada, in a letter to employees.” You’ve led through an unbelievable amount of change these last few weeks and have come together in deeply human ways to support each other and our communities, including our brave front-line responders and health care workers.” In the letter, Williams outlines the continuing steps the company plans to take to protect the health of its employees, or “partners,” by extending all COVID-19 benefits through the beginning of May. Employees who are sick, taking care of loved ones, or simply feel more comfortable self-isolating at home are eligible for catastrophe pay through May 3. Partners who choose to work will be receiving Service Pay, or an additional $3 per hour. “We will continue other temporarily expanded benefits for partners, whether they are working a shift or not, like childcare support through Care@Work and our expanded Food/Beverage Benefit and discounts,” Williams said. Other resources, including mental health services and the company’s CUP Fund (a financial resource started by partners in 1998, for workers to use “when facing an unexpected financial hardship”) would also remain available. Starbucks further confirmed that its stores, which are currently operating on a “to go” model and prohibiting customers from remaining in its lobbies or seating areas, would extend the closure of its lobbies through at least May 3. “After May 3, we do intend to slowly begin to adjust back to more normal operating models and benefits plans, recognizing that the COVID-19 situation in each community is still incredibly different and fluid,” Williams said. Also through May 3, Starbucks is offering a free tall coffee — hot or iced — to frontline workers who visit its locations. The Starbucks Foundation announced it would also be giving over $3 million to support relief efforts, including a $1 million donation to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and $1 million to Give2Asia in support of the region’s front-line medical workers, among other donations.

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