- Chipotle plans to give field leaders, apprentices and managers almost $6.5 million in discretionary bonuses, according to QSR Magazine. On average, eligible employees will see quarterly bonuses ranging from $3,700 for field leaders to $1,800 for general managers and $650 for apprentices.
- Restaurants that qualified for Chipotle's all-crew bonuses during January and February will still receive bonuses of around $360,000, per the quarterly bonus program the chain announced in June.
- Chipotle's 83,000 employees can now access a financial counseling benefit through investment firm Ayco's digital platform. The chain is no longer enforcing hourly requirements for its education benefits either.
This news comes just a week after Chipotle announced a 10% "appreciation pay" raise for hourly workers through April 12. The Mexican fast casual chain is also offering workers emergency paid sick leave if they are directly impacted by COVID-19. The benefit will be equal to pay they would have received in their upcoming two-week schedule or their average hours worked over a two-week period, whichever amount is higher.
The bonuses could deepen employee loyalty in a time of great financial uncertainty. Layoffs and furloughs are sweeping through the restaurant industry, with major brands announcing job cuts almost daily. By paying their workers more, offering a financial safety net via sick leave and also incentivizing continued hard work with a new bonus allotment, Chipotle is differentiating itself from many competitors.
The company seems to be in a more stable financial position than the average chain.
"We can get through for many months, or even a year, at these kinds of depressed sales levels," CFO Jack Hartung told Bloomberg Wednesday. Hartung declined to provide sales figures, however, and said that the chain has had to furlough a small percentage of its workers.
Ninety-seven percent of the chain's 2,600 locations are also still open. The company had already established robust off-premise channels surpassing $1 billion in digital sales in 2019 — especially with the help of its mobile pickup "Chipotlane" drive-thrus — long before the novel coronavirus reached the U.S. Because of this, it undoubtedly has more cash to give to employees than companies outside of the QSR category, which are struggling to drive delivery and pickup sales.
It's unclear if the coronavirus crisis will reach a point where QSRs and fast casuals begin to suffer in the same way that full-service restaurants do. But if Chipotle truly can survive another 12 months of depleted sales, it could come out of the other side of this pandemic with both sure financial footing and a reputation for championing employees.