(Natural News) After facing criticism for not showing concern for the safety of its employees, coffee chain Starbucks, along with a couple dozen other major retailers, has improved its employee benefits policies amid the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
One of the first to do so, Starbucks announced on March 11 that it will now being providing “catastrophe pay” to its baristas who come into contact with the virus, a policy that had previously been implemented at Starbucks locations throughout communist China.
Starbucks later expanded this policy on March 20 to provide pay to its workers for up to 30 days, regardless of whether or not they came into work. That same day, Starbucks closed its indoor seating areas and switched to a drive-thru and delivery-only business model.
Two days before Starbucks made its first announcement about these policy changes, retail chain Walmart issued a memo waiving its employee attendance policy through the end of April. As part of the company’s new emergency leave guidelines, Walmart is now allowing its employees to stay home and take unpaid leave if they don’t feel comfortable coming into work.
Walmart employees who contract the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) are being allowed “up to two weeks of pay.” After these two weeks, if sick employees still aren’t able to return to work, they’re then eligible for up to 26 weeks of pay.
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Starbucks talks the talk, but is it walking the walk?
For all the talk about protecting its workers, Starbucks hasn’t done a very good job of actually doing it, some reports indicate.
Many Starbucks stores are still operating while providing minimal guidance to their employees, or “partners” as the company calls them, about how to work safely amid the pandemic, despite no longer accepting reusable cups.
In many cases, Starbucks stores aren’t even taking minimal precautions, such as providing hand sanitizer or allowing employees to wear masks. Sick workers are reportedly being told to still come into work, and many of them are having to deal with sick customers while working at the cash register.
“I either go to work and risk infecting my vulnerable father or I stay home and isolate and receive no pay,” one Starbucks employees from Massachusetts is quoted as saying.
Even at stores where emergency supplies were supposed to have been shipped, the products often never arrive. When they do, such as in the case of face masks, employees are sometimes being told not to wear them because it looks bad, which puts them at greater risk of becoming infected.
One employee told the media that customers inside stores that are still open often stand too close to one another, or “lick their fingers before handing us cash.” In some instances, customers “burst out into a coughing fit all over my barista on register,” one store manager explained, adding that many customers are “acting as if the virus doesn’t exist.”
Unbelievably, some Starbucks stores aren’t even being notified, or store managers aren’t notifying their employees, in the event that another employee tests positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). And as to be expected, there are problems being reported with the way Starbucks is actually handling its catastrophe pay.
As it turns out, a Starbucks employee is only really eligible for extended catastrophe pay if he or she has an underlying health condition, a travel history involving a higher risk of infection, or if he or she was exposed to someone who tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
The latest news about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is available at Pandemic.news.
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