Starbucks' COVID-19 Sick Pay Is Ending. Here's What Happens Next

As we approach nearly three years since COVID-19 first appeared and started spreading around the world, there's a definite sense that things are starting to change. On September 14, 2022, the Director-General of the World Health Organization issued the most positive outlook to date on the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, "We are not there yet. But the end is in sight," reports Reuters. In a 60 Minutes interview on September 18, 2022, President Joe Biden also stated that, "The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID.... But the pandemic is over."

Some large corporations wasted no time in changing their COVID-19 policies in response to such optimistic statements. Coffee shop giant Starbucks was one such company, issuing a statement on September 19, 2022 that detailed the changes it was making to some of its temporary policies for "life with COVID-19 in the endemic phase." These changes affect COVID-19 sick pay policies implemented in 2020 and 2021.

Starbucks is returning to its standard sick pay policies

In March 2020, Starbucks expanded its "catastrophe pay for COVID-19" so that any employee who was diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 could receive up to 14 days of catastrophe pay while self-isolating. In 2021, Starbucks started offering vaccine pay, including two hours of paid time off to receive each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and four hours of paid time off for vaccine-related side effects.

In a statement issued on September 19, 2022, Starbucks announced that it was ending the last of its temporary COVID-19 programs, including the 14-day self-isolation catastrophe pay, vaccine pay, and side-effects pay, effective at the close of its fiscal year on October 2, 2022. This follows the termination of other temporary COVID-19 policies, such as service pay and leave of absence packages, in June 2020 and July 2021, respectively. These changes will apply to all stores, with the exception of stores in any local jurisdictions that may still require COVID-19 pay after October 2.

From October 3, 2022, Starbucks will return to its standard policies for sick pay. Workers who are diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 will now have to use their sick and vacation pay to self-isolate. Although Starbucks announced at an investor call earlier in September that it plans to move to "a much more advanced or progressive, or generous sick time accrual model," no details have yet been released.