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Starbucks Extends ‘Catastrophe Pay’ Program to Employees Affected by Coronavirus

Plus, the role of food delivery services in an epidemic, and more news to start your day

Starbucks coffee cup on a Starbucks counter. Photo: Harun Ozmen/Shutterstock

Starbucks offering “catastrophe pay” to employees amid coronavirus outbreak

As the new coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the U.S., Starbucks is extending its “catastrophe pay” — a benefit historically offered in response to hurricanes and flooding — to workers who have been impacted by COVID-19, the coffee chain announced.

Any Starbucks employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has close prolonged contact with someone who has been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 — whether that’s a partner, a member of the worker’s household, or someone in their Starbucks store — will receive pay for 14 days of self-quarantine. Those two weeks can be supplemented by additional sick pay, vacation pay, or personal time off (Starbucks baristas accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, CNBC reports). If employees are still unable to return to work, “additional pay replacement” can be made up to 26 weeks.

Employees who show symptoms, but have not had any known contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, will have a paid three-day period to stay at home until they are symptom-free for 24 hours.

The benefit also covers workers who are in considered high risk of developing a serious illness from COVID-19: individuals who are 60 years and older, people with underlying health conditions and weakened immune systems, and those who are pregnant. With a doctor’s note, eligible employees can receive up to 14 days of catastrophe pay.

Starbucks is one of several major chains — including Darden, the parent company of Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and other restaurant chains — who have taken some steps to provide for employees at this time. Now if only there were a healthcare system to support those sick employees without weighing them down with medical bills

And in other news…

  • Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue says that planned changes to SNAP — including making it harder for states to waive the three-month time limit to ensure that people who are unable to find work can still receive food stamps benefits — will take effect as scheduled on April 1, despite the COVID-19 outbreak. [@chuckabbott1/The Fern]
  • As people in the U.S. isolate themselves at home and practice social distancing amid the outbreak, food delivery has emerged as an important lifeline — but just as in Chinese cities during the peak of China’s outbreak, delivery drivers are concerned about possible exposure to the disease. [Washington Post]
  • A call to tip service workers well right now. [Lifehacker]
  • Taco Bell joins the fast-food breakfast wars with a new line of pressed breakfast burritos. [CNN]
  • Pizza Hut has revived the “Big Dipper,” a.k.a. a sauceless pan pizza cut into strips for dipping into sauce on the side, for a limited time. [Brand Eating]
  • Pizza Hut has also teamed up with Ikea to sell a full-size, real-life version of the little pizza saver table thingy as a stunt in Hong Kong. In return, Ikea gets to top Pizza Hut pizzas with its famous Swedish meatballs. [Fast Company]
  • Farmers and the Center for Food Safety are suing the USDA to forbid hydroponic-grown produce from being labeled certified organic. [Modern Farmer]
  • Just a moment of levity:

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