Starbucks Reportedly Urging Workers to Take Unpaid Leave or Cut Hours Amid Pandemic

Lizzy Buczak
June 03, 2020 - 2:47 pm

Starbucks is adjusting to its "new normal" following the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic forced many businesses, including the coffee chain, to close locations or opt for drive-thru and pick-up orders only.

According to Yahoo Finance, sales have declined by 35 to 40 percent from the year prior.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the coffee chain has decided to limit employee hours in anticipation that it won’t bounce back from the pandemic until at least the fall.

Employees will reportedly be officially informed about their options in the coming weeks, which INSIDER reports will be a choice to “quit, take a leave of absence, or continue working for the coffee giant—understanding that they may face reduced hours, due to stores' shortened hours and modified operations” until September.

While Starbucks began gradually re-opening some stores in early May, many locations have decided to keep dining areas closed with only drive-thru, delivery, and takeout open.

Starbucks Executive Vice President Rossann Williams said business has been impacted by a change in customer behavior due to the stay-at-home orders: "Customer routines and occasions have changed, for all retailers," she said.

She also addressed the new "COVID-19 Leave of Absence policy" announced last week that allows "partners who prefer to take an unpaid leave through September 30 and accrue up to 20 hours per week toward benefits eligibility.”

The policy would allow workers to keep Starbucks benefits, while also qualifying for unemployment benefits.

Business Insider notes not all managers and employees agree with the company’s decision to cut hours. Many claim business is “booming” and that they are working “harder than ever” amid the pandemic to serve customers. Others said that cutting hours would force employees to take on more responsibility.

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