Starbucks is offering its customers "catastrophe pay" in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — and after one of its employees tested positive for the virus in Seattle, where the chain is headquartered.
Rossann Williams, Executive Vice President, President of U.S. company-operated business and Canada, penned an open letter to Starbucks partners explaining how the brand is handling the viral pandemic, detailing the company's “temporary, precautionary measures" to limit further infection, such as additional cleaning and sanitizing, banning the use of reusable cups, and extending pay benefits to those who need it.
“We are temporarily expanding catastrophe pay for COVID-19 partner care,” Williams wrote.
Those employees who have been diagnosed with, or were exposed to, the virus will be eligible for up to 14 days of catastrophe pay. Other eligible partners – with a doctor’s note – include vulnerable populations, such as those 60 years and older, people with underlying conditions or weakened immune systems, and those who are pregnant.
Beyond that, workers can then “use additional benefits like sick pay, vacation pay or personal time off as available.” Additional pay replacement can be used up to 26 weeks after the initial two weeks, the press release read.
In addition to the catastrophe fund, the brand shared that mental health resources for those stressed by the situation are available, as is the CUP Fund – a financial resource started by partners in 1998, for workers to use “when facing an unexpected financial hardship.” The multi-billion dollar company announced it would be matching 50 cents for every dollar donated by employees.
“The health and well-being of our partners and customers remains top of mind and our highest priority, and we will continue to act thoughtfully and courageously despite the disruption and uncertainty COVID-19 brings to our daily lives,” Williams said.
The chain announced it has reopened over 90 percent of its stores that were closed in China, news shared by CEO Kevin Johnson in a letter to customers on Wednesday.
Stores have continued to operate normally in the U.S. and Canada for now, though Johnson noted the “dynamic situation” may cause stores to possibly adapt “by limiting seating to improve social distancing, enable mobile order-only scenarios for pickup via the Starbucks App or delivery via Uber Eats, or in some cases only the drive-thru will be open.”