Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. announced an expansion of its tuition benefits Monday to help employees pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The Denver-based operator is partnering with Guild Education, which works with non-profit schools to provide discounts for online classes as an employee benefit.
Through the program, Chipotle employees will be able to take undergraduate and graduate-level classes online from various schools across the country at little to no cost, Chipotle said. Workers can also earn a GED or study English as a second language.
Chipotle, which employs about 60,000 people across about 2,000 restaurants, offers tuition reimbursement of up to $5,250 annually for workers that have been with the chain for at least a year, and qualified students may also earn an additional $5,815 in federal grants. The benefit was expanded to include hourly workers in 2015.
Adding in discounts offered by Guild Education, Chipotle said employees can complete a degree for as little as $250 per year. There is no minimum requirement for hours worked weekly.
“Attracting and retaining teams of top performers is one of the key drivers of our business, and we are always looking for ways to enhance the benefits we offer to help us do that,” said Monty Moran, Chipotle co-CEO. “We’ve seen a lot of success and participation with our existing tuition reimbursement program, and through this new partnership with Guild Education, we can offer our employees even more assistance and opportunities to pursue their education.”
Tuition reimbursement is increasingly becoming a benefit among large restaurant chains as workers struggle with rising education costs.
Starbucks Corp., for example, last year expanded its tuition reimbursement program from two years to four years in a partnership with Arizona State University, offering full tuition for 49 online degree programs for employees who work at least 20 hours per week at the coffeehouse chain.
McDonald’s Corp. also expanded its Archways to Opportunities education program, offering U.S. workers free high school completion and college tuition assistance.
With Chipotle, Guild Education offers online classes, programs and more than 30 degrees from schools like Colorado State University’s Global Campus, Bellevue University and Western Governors University.
Through the program, Chipotle employees can also earn up to 44 transfer credit hours for on-the-job training in crew, kitchen manager, service manager and apprentice manager positions.
Chipotle also offers other employee benefits not common in the restaurant industry, including paid sick leave and vacation, even for hourly workers, as well as medical, dental and vision insurance, a 401K matching program, an employee stock purchase program and the opportunity for twice-annual merit increases and an annual bonus.