The company is offering 500 internships to 16-18 year olds this summer in a bid to boost the number of British citizens working in its stores.
It comes after Pret’s human resources director admitted that just one in 50 people that apply for jobs at the chain are from the UK.
The company is worried it could face a major staffing crisis if it is unable to employ EU nationals after Brexit.
The week-long Big Work Experience Week placements were originally unpaid, though participants would be offered free food.
But following an online backlash Pret said the teenagers would now be paid for their time.
“Pret’s Work Experience Week is not about making sandwiches for free,” Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret A Manger, said in a statement.
“We set it up so that 16-18 year olds can shadow our teams and get a flavour for what working at Pret is like. We’ve seen how passionately people feel about the initiative, and in response I would like to confirm that we will pay all participants Pret’s starting hourly rate and of course provide free food as well.”
Around 700,000 EU staff working in the UK’s hospitality industry are facing an uncertain future after MPs passed the Brexit bill without an amendment guaranteeing the residency rights of EU citizens currently living and working in the UK.