- &pizza is offering all employees and new hires a $500 bonus for getting fully vaccinated, CEO and co-founder Michael Lastoria said on LinkedIn Monday.
- In January, the pizza chain offered four hours of paid-time off and to subsidize transportation for employees to get the vaccine.
- Since vaccines became available, 50% of operators said they would provide incentives for their employees to get vaccinated, according to Black Box Intelligence. Chains including Darden, McDonald's, Noodles & Company, Shake Shack and First Watch have been offering incentives like PTO.
A cash bonus may encourage more employees to get vaccinated and could be a hiring incentive for prospective &pizza employees, particularly as restaurants jockey for new workers. The Black Box Intelligence survey found that one-third of operators said they would offer a one-time cash payment, but 53% said they would offer paid-time off, which sets those restaurants offering cash bonuses apart. Beef O’Brady’s, for example, offered $100 to employees to get vaccinated earlier this year.
The $500 cash bonus builds on &pizza's ongoing push to offer more employees benefits and higher wages. During the height of the pandemic, &pizza raised hourly wages by $1, and in November 2020, the chain committed to a $15 minimum wage by 2022.
Providing incentives can also encourage more employees to get inoculated without implementing a mandate, which leaves operators open to having to navigate a host of laws, especially if an employee can't get one due to a disability or on the grounds of religious beliefs, according to the National Restaurant Association. Mandates could also force operators to fire employees who don't comply and only further a restaurant's staffing woes during the ongoing labor shortage.
Ensuring employees are vaccinated can provide an extra level of comfort for staff, especially with unvaccinated individuals more likely to go a restaurant or bar compared to fully vaccinated people, according to a CBS News Poll. One of the reasons restaurant staff have cited for leaving the industry is safety concerns related to COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated staff can also help put more diners at ease and increase restaurant foot traffic, with 65% of consumers reporting that restaurant workers wearing safety gear like masks and gloves are "absolutely required" for them to feel comfortable to dine at a restaurant.