Chipotle Rolls Out Rare Perks for Hourly Workers

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Working at Chipotle is about to get a whole lot better for its hourly workers.

Beginning in July, the popular Mexican-style restaurant chain will offer its part-time workers paid sick leave, paid vacation and tuition reimbursement — benefits previously enjoyed only by Chipotle’s salaried workers, The Huffington Post reports.

“We’re going to say that we take the same care in sourcing the employees that work in our restaurants and company as we do in going out and finding ingredients to serve in our restaurants,” said J.D. Cummings, the company’s recruitment strategy manager.

The Denver-based chain will reimburse 90 percent of tuition, books and fees, up to the IRS’s limit of $5,250 per year, Nation’s Restaurant News said. Starbucks, McDonald’s, Chrysler and a number of other employers offer tuition reimbursement to low-paid workers.

The employee perks are an effort to make Chipotle more competitive when it comes to hiring and retaining workers.

“If you can’t compete at the bottom in the terms of entry-level wage, what incentive can you build into that process — what path can you create — that’s going to hold your people?” William Espsey, brand voice lead in Chipotle’s marketing division, said during a recent brand and human resources conference. “You’ve got to promise them you’re going to develop them. You’ve got to promise them a future that if they are dedicated and good and strong for the company, you are going to reward them.”

Although paid sick leave is a typical benefit for high-paid, salaried workers, you rarely see it for low-wage workers, HuffPo said. The picture is much the same when it comes to paid vacation.

This move tracks with a general trend in the tightening labor marketplace, as retail giants including Wal-Mart and fast-food chains increase their minimum pay for line workers.

The fast-food industry is also rolling out more health-conscious menu choices in response to consumer demand. In April, Chipotle also became the first major restaurant chain to remove genetically modified ingredients from its food.

What do you think of Chipotle’s new perks for workers? Share your comments below.

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