Americas

US chains take steps to pay and protect workers

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In addition, North American hotels react to COVID-19 closures and cancelations, reports Amelia Levin

A number of chains have announced steps to pay, protect and hire new employees as restaurants and other eateries remain closed to the public while government officials try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Starbucks, for one, announced in a statement that it is fulfilling wages for all of its employees, even though many will not report to their shifts because of store closures. The coffee giant also said it is increasing employee pay this month for locations that remain open. Through the Starbucks Service Pay program, employees working their shifts through April 19 will receive an additional $3 per hour.

“It is the responsibility of every business to care for its employees during this time of uncertainty, shared sacrifice and common cause,” CEO Kevin Johnson said in the statement. “I hope to see many business leaders across the country doing all they can to retain jobs, pay employees, continue benefits, and demonstrate compassion as they make critical decisions.”

In New York, famed restaurateur Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group announced his company will fulfil wages for furloughed front-of-the-house staff.

Protecting teams, customers

Papa John’s announced the hiring of up to 20,000 new staff members to step up its production as delivery and carryout has spiked in the wake of dine-in closures. Chain execs also said the Louisville, Ky.-based company is “focused on protecting its team members and customers, implementing additional health and safety precautions, like enhanced restaurant sanitation measures and No Contact Delivery.” No Contact Delivery provides a limited interaction food drop-off experience and online payment.

In West Palm Beach, Florida, TooJay’s Deli announced that 10% of gift card sales through April 1 will be donated to a special fund created for team members. The company will contribute matching funds.

“Our team members are the heart and soul of this company and we are doing what we can to keep them healthy, safe and employed as we navigate our way through this difficult period,” said TooJay’s CEO and President Max Piet.

“We are very grateful to our loyal guests and appreciate their support of this gift card initiative for our staff.” Employee discounts have also been increased and the company is adding driver positions to try and offset loss of hours in other positions. In addition, the chain launched curbside pickup at all of its locations throughout Florida with the exception of Tampa.

North American hotels react to COVID-19 closures, cancelations

Based on current occupancy estimates, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), based on a report by Oxford Economics, says four million total jobs have been eliminated already or are on the verge of being lost in the next few weeks. In certain affected markets, including Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and Boston, hotel occupancy rates are already down below 20 percent and individual hotels and major operators have already shut down operations

The hotel industry, which supports nearly 2.3 million jobs directly and more 8.3 million jobs indirectly will see 44% of hotel employees in every state lose or will soon lose their jobs. Click here for the complete list of state-by-state job losses.

Some hotel companies are putting their unoccupied beds and rooms to good use. In Montreal, Corporate Stays has begun offering free units during the lockdown there for COVID-19 victims and others traveling back to the country and needing to self-quarantine. The reality as it currently stands, is that hundreds of units will sit empty for a while,” Vladimir Suàrez, the founder and CEO of Corporate Stays said in a release.

“Given that international travel is no longer possible and that all non-essential travel has been banned, this has definitely put a large strain on all businesses in the hospitality and travel industries, as well as many others.”

Globally, some CEOs have volunteered to take pay cuts to zero to ensure the survival of jobs during the crisis. This includes CEO Jane Sun and chairman James Liang of China’s largest online travel platform, trip.com.

Amelia Levin