Starbucks to increase base pay of all employees by minimum 5 per cent

Starbucks is hiking the base pay of all employees, including store managers by 5 per cent or more in its US company-owned stores  starting 3 October.

The range of increase would depend on "geographic and market factors and is intended to ensure Starbucks remains a retail employer of choice in all the markets where we operate," CEO Howard Schultz wrote in a letter to employees yesterday.

The Seattle-based company declined to disclose how much pay would be increasing in the Seattle area or any area-specific wage information.

"Our field leadership will be following up with market-by-market details in the coming weeks," Schultz wrote in his letter.

The move comes as after Starbucks last year announced a major expansion of its college tuition programme to cover tuition assistance over the entire cost of a four-year online bachelor's degree (See: Starbucks extends free college education for 4 years to all full-time employees)

As employees responded yesterday to a memo from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announcing wage hikes and other workplace changes, some had more reason to celebrate unspecified dress code modifications.

"Maybe I can expand my hair colour choices to include something a little more fun than red!" a person commented on the Starbucks Partners Facebook page, which prompted calls for pink and purple.

Starbucks' current dress code bars "bright or unnatural" hair colour and a petition which was launched last year bemoaning the rule as restricting the expression of one's "true self" was signed by nearly 13,000 employees.

But the Seattle-based coffee giant, offered no details about the new dress code changes, saying only that the new dress code offer "more room for self-expression."

A dress code relaxation could be seen by some to appeal to millennial employees, but according to workplace expert Tom Gimbel the announcement was a marketing ploy to make Starbucks appear like it cared about "the common man." The company had recently drawn much criticism over scheduling practices and reduction of employee hours.

"They're really not doing anything that anyone else isn't doing, they're just positioning it," said Gimbel, CEO of Chicago-based staffing firm The LaSalle Network. "This is a marketing thing, this is not a culture thing,"Chicago Tribune.com reported.