- &pizza is closing all store locations November 3 and providing paid-time off to encourage employees to vote, according to a press release.
- In 2016 and 2018, the brand provided employees with PTO to vote, but after learning about the complex logistics that arise when multiple employees sought to use that time, the chain decided closures would be more effective.
- Because election day is not an official federal holiday, the chain said it will encourage other restaurants to refrain from opening on election day to create a private industry holiday to allow their workers to vote.
The debate over whether election day should be made a federal holiday has simmered for several years. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders circulated the idea in 2015, for example. Proponents of this believe it is necessary to improve voter turnout, which has been generally down since the 1960 presidential election when voter turnout reached 63.8%, according to Fair Vote. Opponents of the idea claim that mandatory business closures would negatively impact lower-wage earners who would prefer to vote before or after their shift. The debate has reached a new level of discourse in light of ongoing protests against systemic racism sweeping the nation.
"Our democracy has been pushed to its limits, and we want to empower and educate our workforce to assert their voice at the polls. With the industry's help, we can provide a much larger opportunity to do what's right, and what's needed in this country for this election and moving forward," Michael Lastoria, &pizza co-founder and CEO, said in the press release.
But &pizza isn't alone in offering PTO during election day. Bakery chain Milk Bar and independent restaurants, such as Austin's Nixta Taqueria and Vermont's Honey Road, are offering time off during elections, according to Eater. CAVA provided the benefit during the 2018 election.
These progressive moves fall in line with companies becoming more employee-centric. Happy employees, who feel supported by their employers, are more invested in their work and typically yield better financial returns and customer service scores for the brand. Employee retention and innovation are higher in these workplaces as well.
Consumers also are more supportive of brands that take a stance on key issues. Seventy percent of consumers like to see brands that address social and environmental issues, while 46% pay attention to a brand's social responsibility efforts when selecting products to purchase, according to data from Certus.
This isn’t the first time &pizza has demonstrated its employee-centric approach. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the brand increased hourly pay by $1 and created methods to keep its employees fully employed as numerous other brands engaged in pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs. Part of the impetus for the brand's decision to raise wages was to combat financial insecurity, food insecurity and the general anxiety that would affect employees if the brand opted to reduce pay or downsize its workforce, COO Andy Hooper previously told Restaurant Dive.