COVID-19 has forced pretty much every restaurant chain across the country to rethink its relationship with its employees overnight. While some companies have done right by their employees and at least bumped up their pay a little bit to compensate for the new risks that come with going into work during a pandemic, the fact that workers across a variety of fast food chains have planned a strike certainly suggests that more can be done.
That might explain why Starbucks just announced it would donate $10 million worth of grants to employees whose lives have been impacted by COVID-19 through a new Global Partner Emergency Relief Program. Available to employees of both company-owned Starbucks locations and licensed stores around the globe, the program lets those in “disaster designated areas” immediately apply for a one-time direct grant to help cover expenses and deal with sudden upheavals like home loss or the death of a family member or partner.
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“During this very difficult time, we believe it is our responsibility to create additional support for partners facing unexpected financial hardship wherever they are,” Starbucks’ chief partner officer Lucy Helm said in a statement cited by Nation’s Restaurant News. “We are proud to be a catalyst for a first-of-its-kind global funding initiative to further demonstrate to our Starbucks partners that we are in this together.”
While the $10 million in grants will help support Starbucks’ CUP program, which facilitates employee-to-employee financial assistance, it also marks the first time that company-owned and licensed stores outside the US will both have access to this sort of disaster relief grants. Starbucks employees outside the US can apply through the Emergency Assistance Foundation and the EMEA Partner Relief Fund (for those in European company-owned stores).
This isn’t the only effort Starbucks has made to help out its employees since COVID-19 began forcing store closures. Around March 20, the company announced it would continue to pay all employees for thirty days regardless of whether they work or not, a commitment that’s since been extended through at least May 3. All employees who continued working in any still-operating stores after that announcement received a further $3 per hour “Service Pay” raise.
Those working in “disaster designated areas” can begin applying for grant money immediately.
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