By Naiya Chapman
On January 24th, 2018, Starbucks announced that they are investing in a new Partner and Family Sick Time benefit. Since we are amidst an intense flu season, employers that offer paid sick leave are greatly appreciated by their employees. Each year, flu seasons can tend to be serious and even deadly. People are generally advised to stay home from work or school if they have come down with the flu. However, it is interesting that Starbucks is one of the largest fast food chains in the world, and they have just now decided to offer this benefit to their employees, also referred to as “partners” by the company.
If you are seriously sick, you should be able to stay home without worrying about losing part of your paycheck. In the past, employees in need of their paycheck may have showed up to work despite their illness. Whether an employee has the flu or just common cold symptoms, this raises a serious health issue within the workplace, as most employees are working directly with customer’s food and drinks. Making sure that each and every coffee shop is sanitary and clean should be one of the company’s top priorities, but it seems like the health of sick employees was overlooked.
There’s no coincidence that Starbucks announced this benefit after the GOP tax bill was passed back in December 2017. According to the Washington Post, “The world’s larg- est coffee chain is adding perks for its employees in the wake of the U.S. tax cuts, announcing a wage increase and one time bonus in the form of a stock grant, just as dozens of companies have done in recent weeks. Yet it is also expanding paid sick leave and parental leave for many new dads, adding its name to the much smaller but growing list of companies using the recent tax cuts to expand benefits for workers.” This tax cut is allowing Starbucks and other leading fast food companies to gain employees and money without putting out much to offer these new employee benefits. Would Starbucks have introduced these benefits if it weren’t for the new tax bill?
According to Starbucks Newsroom, “A new Partner and Family Sick Time benefit will be available to all eligible U.S. partners, which will allow partners to accrue paid sick time based on hours worked and then use them if they or a family mem- ber needs care. When this benefit goes into effect this year, Sick Time will accrue at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, thus a partner working 23 hours a week can expect to accrue approximately five days of sick time benefit over the course of one year.” The sick time that is accrued by employees can be used if the employee themselves are sick, or if a family member is sick. However, this benefit will only be available to United States employees. Although it has taken longer than it should have for Starbucks to offer this im- portant employee benefit, it is better late than never.