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Grant Whittington headshot

Chipotle to Give Hourly Workers Really, Really Impressive Benefits


Chipotle announced at its annual marketing and human resources conference that it will extend benefits like tuition reimbursements, sick pay and paid vacations to all employees on July 1. These luxuries were previously offered to only salaried workers.

“We just made an announcement internally that we are now going to be offering sick pay and paid vacation time for all employees at all levels of the company, including all-entry level employees,” said recruitment strategy manager JD Cummings. “And we’re going to be offering the tuition reimbursement that we offer salaried employees to all hourly employees.”

Chipotle spokeswoman Danielle Winslow expanded on the announcement, detailing that the restaurant will reimburse 90 percent of tuition, books and fees up to a limit of $5,250 per calendar year. Expenses that would qualify under the reimbursements include registrations, university fees and specific school supplies. The hourly employees, however, will have to prove their loyalty before being handed such impressive benefits. Crew cashiers and takeout specialists must have one year of service to qualify for the package.

The tuition reimbursement goes even further than just the common associate’s and bachelor’s degree-granting universities; the company is offering paybacks for business, technical, vocational, graduate and post-graduate schools. Chipotle will also offer compensation for qualified employees to complete review sessions for exams such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

The company also plans to encourage students to perform well in school, requiring receipts and confirmation of a passing grade 60 days after completion of the class for the reimbursement. The initiative is rolling soon with the reimbursements available starting July 1.

The restaurant famed for its burritos also introduced a measure to allow for paid vacation days for employees who have worked for 90 days. If an employee is hired in January, he or she is awarded 10 paid vacation days, even in the first year of employment. In descending order, employees hired in February will receive nine paid vacation days, and so on. Even if a worker is fired, they are able to claim the vacation days they didn’t use.

Chipotle has about 53,090 employees, according to an ABC News article, 48,500 of which are hourly and part-time workers. The restaurant hopes to incentivize high school and college students to work at Chipotle while building a stable career along the way.

A year ago, Starbucks announced a smaller-scale initiative to tackle working and going to college at the same time. The Seattle-based coffee company partnered with Arizona State University and allowed part-time and full-time workers to go to college online through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

Not all companies are moving along so quickly: In April, McDonald’s announced that employees will earn $1 more than the minimum wage if they work at a company-owned restaurant -- which only constitutes about 10 percent of the chain worldwide. But the company noted its intentions to increase average wages to more than $10 an hour by the end of 2016.

Mickey D’s employees are perhaps the most publicized group of employees looking to earn a wage hike. Cashiers and burger flippers have lined the streets of some of the most powerful cities in the U.S. to demand $15 an hour. The demonstrators chanted “supersize my check” and helped move along the $1 wage increase, but employees were less than satisfied. In late May, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

Chipotle is once again pioneering the fast-food restaurant industry by giving its employees a reason to work at the Denver-based company. First, Chipotle set the standard for healthy food by removing GMOs, artificial colors and flavors, and only serving beef from grass-fed cows, but this step may be even more revolutionary and impressive. Restaurants are sure to follow in the footsteps of Chipotle and give greater benefits to part-time, hourly workers.

Image credit: Flickr/Mike Mozart

Grant Whittington headshotGrant Whittington

Based in Atlanta, GA, Grant is a nonprofit professional and freelance writer passionate about affordable housing and finding sustainable approaches to international development. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.

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