Chipotle is putting its money where its mouth is on the topic of employee support.
The burrito chain is expanding benefits including full tuition reimbursements, sick pay and paid vacations to all employees starting July 1, reports Nation's Restaurant News. These benefits, formerly reserved for salaried employees, will now affect hourly and entry-level workers.
Chipotle has long emphasized the importance of its "people culture" in its business model. The chain asserts that, because it has no franchises, it is easier for employees to move up in the company. Providing entry-level employees tuition reimbursements and other benefits of salaried employees could help drive this point home, and keep more young employees in the business for longer periods of time.
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Chipotle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Other restaurant chains that are building on benefits for hourly employees include Starbucks, which expanded its tuition reimbursement program from two years to four years in April, and McDonald's, which expanded its education program and vacation policy in April.
As activists fight for a higher minimum wage, quick service chains have come under fire for mistreating employees. While Chipotle has escaped the scrutiny of some fast-food chains, such as McDonald's, the burrito chain also has its fair share of angry employees. Currently, there are nine lawsuits in six states that allege Chipotle ripped off employees by forcing them to work off the clock and withholding overtime pay. Even though Chipotle has built a reputation as a sustainable, employee-friendly place, it pays for the chain to make sure employees are being treated fairly – especially as fast-food companies begin investing in similar benefits.