Chipotle offers new benefits including tuition reimbursement to part time employees

Chipotle Mexican Grill will offer all employees, including part-time workers, paid vacation time, sick leave pay and tuition reimbursement starting 1 July, according to media outlets.

The benefits which were earlier available regular employees only would now be open to every employee.

According to Danielle Winslow, a Chipotle spokeswoman, the Denver-based chain would reimburse 90 per cent of tuition, books and fees up to the IRS's limit of $5,250 per year, the Nation's Restaurant News reported.

While crew cashier and takeout specialists would have to give one year of service to become eligible for the tuition benefits, all hourly managers and salaried employees would need no waiting period, according to the report.

"It's an incredible statement by our leadership about how much we want to invest in the best people we have and to keep them with us," JD Cummings, recruitment strategy manager at Chipotle, said during a presentation at the annual Summer Brand Camp marketing and human resources conference, according to the Nation's Restaurant News.

"We have a lot of folks who, if they realize they could make a career with Chipotle, would stick with us while they are in college and take advantage of our tuition-reimbursement program."

The move comes as US fast food chains face increasing pressure to increase wages and improve working conditions.

A year ago, Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz announced a partnership with Arizona State University for its Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which would allow part time and full-time workers to enroll for online courses. It expanded the programme to cover full costs of a four-year online bachelor's degree for all empployees, in April this year (See: Starbucks extends free college education for 4 years to all full-time employees)

McDonald's announced in April that employees at company-owned restaurants, about 10 per cent of its restaurants worldwide, would earn $1 over the local minimum wage, starting 1 July.

From that day, full- and part-time workers who had worked at the company at least one year would accrue paid time off. By the end of next year, according to McDonald's, the average hourly wage for its workers at company-owned restaurants would be over $10 an hour.