The coronavirus outbreak has quickly ground much of the restaurant industry to a halt; many states and cities have banned dine-in service, and major chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, and Dunkin’ have voluntarily shuttered their dining rooms.

Now several brands are rolling out policies to support those who could be affected the most: their employees.

For starters, many companies have introduced paid sick leave for employees. While the National Center for Health Statistics reports that only about 25 percent of foodservice employees receive paid sick leave, companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chipotle, Noodles & Co., Domino’s, Yum! Brands, Darden, and others have introduced sick-leave policies in recent days that allow hourly works to stay home if they are ill.


But some brands are going the extra mile in supporting employees amid disruptions to the business that will surely cost workers hours and wages.

Washington, D.C.–based fast casual &pizza has issued one of the industry’s more aggressive staff policies. It expanded its paid sick leave for employees and waived its wait time for full health benefits for new employees, but it also increased its hourly wages by $1 for all store-level workers, promised unlimited free pizza for employees and their immediate families, and teamed up with Lyft to provide $5 rides to work for its employees.

Plus, any worker who suspects they might have coronavirus and any coworker who might have come in contact with them will receive 14 days of “health and safety” pay.

“We were thinking about what our job is and how can we put our best foot forward and what can we do in a safe environment,” founder and CEO Michael Lastoria told The New York Times. “We need to give people hours and pay people more because in times like this people need more.”

Brown Bag Seafood Founder And CEO Donna Lee

Chicago-based Brown Bag Seafood Co., which has seven locations and around 75 hourly team members, introduced a policy that will support team members who lose hours due to the slowdown. The company committed to paying its employees 70 percent of their “lost” hours, which include both time that employees spend away from work to care for themselves or family members as well as any reduced time that results from a business slowdown.

Brown Bag introduced the policy after Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all of the state’s bars and restaurants to close (with the exception of delivery, curbside, and carryout service).

“We agree with and respect the governor’s leadership in his decision to shut down dining in at restaurants, but the lack of any concrete details of how the government plans to support all of the affected workers in our industry is disappointing,” said Brown Bag founder and CEO Donna Lee in a statement. “In the meantime, we have crew members that need and deserve answers for how their livelihood is going to be maintained, and we felt we needed to step up and swiftly act.”

Lee added that many employees want to continue working through this season, and as long as they’re healthy, she said, “we want to afford them that ability as much as possible.”

Brown Bag’s two food-hall locations were closed following the governor’s orders, which slashed hours for a dozen workers. Co-owner Zach Flanzman said in a statement that he expects revenue to be down more than 50 percent in the shutdown period.

According to data from the National Restaurant Association, there were more than 15 million people employed by the restaurant industry in 2019. Nearly 14 million of those positions were related to food preparation and service.

Employee Management, Story, &pizza, Brown Bag Seafood