Progressive pizza chain &pizza is awarding a $500 bonus to all employees and new hires who are fully vaccinated against COVID, the chain’s co-founder and CEO said this week.
The Washington, D.C.-based chain currently has about 800 employees and plans to pay out a minimum of $280,000 or as much as $400,000 if the company reaches President Biden’s stated goal of having 70% of adults fully vaccinated.
“Those numbers will certainly increase in the coming months as we make new hires and open new shops,” &pizza CEO Michael Lastoria said in an email to Restaurant Business.
Lastoria announced the benefit on LinkedIn on Monday.
The $500 perk is significantly higher than the vaccination bonuses offered by many restaurant companies, most of which have given workers paid time off as an incentive to get immunized against the coronavirus.
But Lastoria said the move represents the chain’s commitment to its workers and to ending the pandemic in the U.S.. He said the private sector must work to keep the “vaccination momentum going.”
“While the progress we’ve made with reopening is exciting, this will provide new stress to restaurant workers who have been tasked with enforcing safety protocols for months now,” he said. “it’s not hard to imagine that enforcing these protocols will become even more difficult as many people feel as if the pandemic is ‘over.’”
In addition to incentivizing workers to get vaccinated, restaurants, bars and even state governments around the country are trying a variety of ways to encourage people to get their shots, from free drinks and food to lotteries.
&pizza has a history of strong actions and political statements around employee benefits. In November, it said it would pay all of its workers at least $15 an hour starting in 2022. The 50-unit chain closed all of its restaurants on Election Day to give employees time off to vote. It also awarded all workers three days of paid time off a year for “personal activism.”