Taco Bell’s owner will pay workers during coronavirus closures

Yum Brands, which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut, said it is “encouraging” its franchisees to take a similar step.
Photograph courtesy of Taco Bell

The owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut said Friday that it will pay employees at company stores that get closed due to the coronavirus, or who get quarantined to prevent the disease’s spread.

The company said it would pay employees for their regularly scheduled hours during a quarantine or closure. David Gibbs, CEO of Yum Brands, also said the company is “encouraging our franchise partners to take a similar people-first approach.”

That’s important, because franchisees operate 98% of Yum’s 50,000 worldwide restaurants.

The move is the latest by restaurant chains to ensure their employees get paid during a quarantine or closure. McDonald’s previously said it would pay employees quarantined over the coronavirus—that chain is 95% franchised in the U.S.—while Starbucks said that it would expand catastrophe pay for employees.

In his letter, Gibbs said the chain’s three brands are increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing restaurants, focusing on high-touch areas such as door handles and counters, and reinforcing sanitization standards.

Gibbs also said the company is making sure it provides hand sanitizer to team members and customers and creating channels for employee and franchisee feedback.

Gibbs also said the company is working with delivery providers to “prepare for an increase in demand for online ordering and delivery services.”

Yum has already directed staff to postpone nonessential business travel and has prohibited travel to highly affected countries. The Louisville, Ky.-based company also has plans in place so employees at its various offices can work remotely as needed.

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