Starbucks Changes Rules to Make Workers’ Lives Easier

Starbucks Corp. is working to make its cafe workers’ lives easier by improving scheduling practices after a New York Times story detailed the struggles of one of its employees.

The world’s largest coffee-shop chain is immediately changing its policies so that employees never have to work opening and closing shifts back to back, Cliff Burrows, president of the Americas region, said in a letter e-mailed to more than 130,000 employees across the U.S. today. Starbucks also will transfer workers to a store closer to their home if their commute is longer than one hour, he said.

Starbucks is changing rules and updating its scheduling software after the newspaper’s story yesterday, which featured a barista who had trouble managing her child’s daycare and schooling because of her schedule. The employee worked erratic hours, such as staying until 11 p.m. one night and starting at 4 a.m. the next day, and rarely got her schedule more than three days ahead of time. Work schedules must be posted at least one week in advance, Burrows said in today’s letter.

“Taking care of our partners is a responsibility I take very personally,” Burrows said. “We have a responsibility to support them in balancing their home and work lives.”

The company in June said it would begin reimbursing its U.S. workers to get degrees from Arizona State University online. Starbucks also has offered cafe employees restricted stock, known as Bean Stock, since 1991 and has a 401(k) matching program.

Restaurant chains have recently been criticized for not giving workers the necessary benefits and wages to support themselves. McDonald’s Corp., Wendy’s Co. and Burger King Worldwide Inc. store employees have this year protested across the country, asking for $15-an-hour wages and the right to form a union.

Starbucks has about 11,700 U.S. locations.

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