While the Starbucks is aiming to improve baristas' work schedules stateside, the coffee chain is raising wages and offering housing assistance to staff in the U.K. According to CNBC, workers who have been on staff for at least a year are eligible for interest-free home loans. The program is part of an effort to help workers find affordable housing amid a rising cost of living.
"The two greatest financial challenges Starbucks employees face are housing and education."
The announcement comes at a time when U.K. chains like Pizza Express and Côte are facing a barrage of criticism for failing to give workers' their tips. Starbuck's will raise wages from £6.77 ($10.28 USD) to £7.20 ( $10.96 USD) per hour and pay London workers an additional fee. Starbucks' EMEA president says, "We want our partners to be able to live as close to work as possible. It's an issue with our proximity to cities and one of the problems with having much of our business in areas like Central London where it's too expensive to live in the city center." Business Insider reports that housing prices in the U.K. are expected to rise by 6 percent this year.
The chain made the decision based on a yearlong corporate study that found that the two greatest financial challenges Starbucks employees face are housing and education. The company doesn't provide details on how much funding will be set aside for the loans but expects to roll out the program within the next three months. Staff can apply and receive a loan within four weeks. Payments will then be deducted from wages over a 12 months period until the loan is completely paid off.
This is the latest in a series of moves by Starbucks to improve its labor practices. In April, the company announced that it would pay college tuition for employees who worked at least 20 hours per week. The toasted graham latte slingin' chain also launched a initiative to hire 100,000 jobless millennials in August.