Starbucks is offering catastrophe pay to any employees who’ve been exposed to COVID-19, as well as those who haven’t been but are most vulnerable to becoming ill.
The company said in a blog Wednesday that any worker who’s been diagnosed or come into contact with the virus can get up to 14 days of catastrophe pay to enable them to take off work and stay home.
If employees need more time off after that two week period, they can continue to access pay for up to 26 weeks.
The benefit also goes further. Employees who haven’t been exposed to someone diagnosed with the virus, but who are experiencing fever, a cough or other symptoms associated with it, are advised to stay home and not return to work until they go without symptoms for 24 hours. They can tap into catastrophe pay for a three day period.
And employees who are at least 60 years old, or who have underlying conditions like heart disease or diabetes which health officials says makes them more vulnerable to the virus, can also access up to two weeks of catastrophe pay if they have a note from a physician.
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“You should never have to choose between work and taking care of yourself,” Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks retail operations in the U.S. and Canada wrote in the blog item.
Starbucks is one of the many companies reevaluating its policies and customer service practices in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to the deaths of 31 Americans and has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Other steps taken by Starbucks include no longer allowing customers to use their own cups. And like Costco, it has temporarily stopped offering samples of its products. On Tuesday, Starbucks also issued guidance on the safest way to grind whole bean coffee brought in by the public.
The company is also matching 50 cents for every dollar donated by employees to assist colleagues affected by the coronavirus. The “CUP Fund” was established 22 years ago to help Starbucks employees coping with financial difficulties.