Starbucks is offering its baristas a voluntary leave of absence program for employees impacted by trimmed work schedules amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company told workers.
In a letter to its workforce posted on the company’s website on May 26, Rossann Williams, the Seattle-based company’s executive vice president, said the company will offer a voluntary leave of absence program for baristas impacted by reduced work schedules as the stores are still operating on a limited hours, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“Customer routines and occasions have changed for all retailers, and it will take some time to recover,” she wrote in the letter dated May 26. “As many of you are already seeing, the need for modified operations and reduced store hours as well as economic impacts and shifted consumer behaviors are unfortunately impacting our partner hours.”
Baristas who choose the company’s coronavirus unpaid leave policy through September 30 will keep their healthcare coverage at no cost as well as other benefits.
Williams encouraged her workforce to “explore any COVID-19 federal and state unemployment compensation.” In addition to state jobless benefits, the federal CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week in assistance through the summer.
“I know some partners who are facing reduced hours may prefer to take this opportunity to pursue a different path outside Starbucks, and we are considering how to best support and care for these partners as well,” she wrote.
The letter comes as the chain has reopened most of its cafes. Store hours and the extent of service vary depending on state rules. Stores with drive-throughs have opened, but at reduced hours, while other regions offer delivery, contactless pickup and in-store, to-go orders.
Last month, the coffee chain reported same store sales in the U.S. were off by as much as 40 percent compared to a year ago. This despite the fact that the company restored some service to more than 85 percent of its company-owned stores.
As the impact of COVID-19 began taking its toll on store sales in March, Starbucks expanded its paid sick leave and provided an extra $3 in hourly wages for employees who worked their regular normal shifts through May.