Chipotle boosts parental leave, adds breast-milk shipping

The restaurant chain is focusing on family-friendly enhancements in its latest move to improve its benefit offerings.
By: | March 6, 2020 • 3 min read
(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Chipotle is continuing its push to enhance benefit offerings for its employees in a hot job market.

On the heels of its recent announcements that it has improved its education benefits, created a bonus program and added mental- and financial-wellness offerings, the Mexican eatery said Thursday it is boosting paid parental leave, adding a breast-milk-shipping benefit and testing an unlimited paid-time-off program.

Beginning this year, Chipotle will increase its paid parental leave for restaurant support center and eligible field employees to 12 weeks for birth moms, and four weeks for new dads and individuals adopting children. It also will cover costs for nursing mothers to utilize breast-milk-shipping services during work travel, and an employee resource group will offer special “returnity” guides to help corporate employees transition back to work after taking leave.

Related: Is breast-milk shipping the next big benefit?

Meanwhile, some of Chipotle’s senior employees will receive unlimited PTO in a test program. That benefit program may be extended to other employees if it proves successful, company executives say.

“We want to ensure our employees are able to share important moments with their family and have the necessary time away from work to recharge after a monumental life event,” says Marissa Andrada, Chipotle’s chief people officer.

The new perks are the employer’s latest in a string of moves to enhance benefits to better support employee wellbeing and attract and keep workers, especially in a fast-food industry with significant turnover. Andrada says the company’s benefit upgrades are an effort to position Chipotle “as a leader in curating an environment that maximizes the potential of our outstanding workforce.”

At the beginning of the year, Chipotle rolled out new mental-health and financial-wellness initiatives for more than 83,000 employees through employee-assistance programs and enhanced benefits offerings. All Chipotle associates and their family members now are able to receive personalized mental-health assistance through a partnership with healthcare company Health Advocate, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the company’s medical plan. That support can be delivered at any time of day through in-person, phone or virtual visits with licensed counselors. Chipotle also partnered with Ayco, a financial-counseling platform owned by Goldman Sachs, to provide resources including an assessment, checklist and accompanying education to assist with financial planning.

In November, Chipotle began covering 100% of tuition costs upfront for 75 business and technology degrees through Guild Education, a Denver-based company that administers tuition benefits for employers. After 120 days of employment, Chipotle workers become eligible to pursue degrees from five universities: the University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Southern New Hampshire University and Wilmington University.

The education benefit shows the “company’s commitment to upskilling its workforce and helping employees achieve their professional goals,” Rachel Carlson, Guild Education’s CEO and co-founder, said at the time.

Related: Chipotle to offer free tuition benefits to employees

Chipotle last year also introduced a bonus program, allowing restaurant employees the opportunity to earn an extra month’s worth of pay each year. To date, Chipotle has paid out over $2.75 million in crew bonuses with 10% of restaurants achieving a bonus in at least one quarter last year.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.