Companies offer employee bonuses during COVID-19 pandemic
Extra pay, enhanced benefits provided to workers during unprecedented demand surge
As people are rushing to the grocery store to fill their pantries and refrigerators during the coronavirus pandemic, food and beverage companies are working around the clock to keep up with demand.
Because of this, many processors and retail outlets are offering special cash bonuses to their employees, who continue to work to produce food during this unprecedented time. Here’s how some companies are providing support to their employees.
Hormel Foods has announced a special cash bonus, totaling more than $4 million, to its plant production team members who continue to work to produce food during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“As a global branded food company, we play a critical role in providing safe, high-quality food during this unprecedented time,” says Jim Snee, chairman of the board, president and CEO at Hormel Foods. “Our incredible team of more than 13,000 plant professionals is the backbone of our company and this special bonus is one way we can continue to thank them for how they have risen to the challenge and continue to produce food with a sense of purpose and pride.”
The special bonus includes $300 for full-time team members and $150 for part-time team members. Additionally, the company has expanded its CARE Program employee assistance program fund, and extended paid sick leave and waived waiting periods and eligibility requirements for certain benefits for its workforce.
Kwik Trip is giving an estimated 26,000 co-workers temporary bonuses for six weeks for continuing to work despite the added workload and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bonuses, which CEO Don Zietlow announced to employees in a letter this week, will be $2 an hour for hourly retail co-workers for each hour worked between March 13 and April 23, and $2 an hour for support center workers for their hours between March 15 and April 25.
Store leaders will receive an extra $100 a week for time worked from March 13 to April 23. Drivers will receive an extra $100 a week from March 15 through April 25.
The company has offered periodic raises “either for situations or because we were profitable, but this is the first time they have been company-wide,” says John McHugh, the company’s corporate communications director. “It recognizes that co-workers have extra financial needs. It’s to reward our co-workers. They are showing up. Obviously, Kwik Trip has a critical role, and they are showing up,” he says.
Canada-based Olymel has announced support measures that will apply to its facilities in Quebec and the rest of Canada. Starting March 23 and until further notice, the company reports that it is paying a fixed bonus of $2 (Canadian) per hour to all hourly employees in pork production, slaughtering operations, processing, further processing, transportation, maintenance and warehousing in both the pork and poultry sectors. The vast majority of Olymel employees across Canada will benefit from this bonus, which may be as much as $80 extra per week.
Ramon Laguarta, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, says, “With COVID-19 reshaping the way we run our business and live our lives, it’s important that we acknowledge the people keeping us steady during turbulent times, notably the heroic work of the millions of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals around the world. At the same time, there is important work being done in other sectors, including our own, to help maintain the supply of foods and beverages. We couldn’t be prouder of our PepsiCo team for the role they play in restocking pantries and refrigerators.”
PepsiCo reports that the enhanced benefits to all U.S. employees include:
- Employees who must quarantine will receive 100% of their pay during the up to 14-day quarantine period. The quarantine period will not reduce accrued unused sick days, nor will it reflect negatively in attendance records.
- Employees who have been assessed by a doctor and are either showing symptoms or are diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive 100% of their pay during the 14-day quarantine period. Beginning in week 3, employees will receive sick pay/short-term disability benefits, which will provide a minimum of two-thirds of their pay, for up to 10 weeks.
- Employees who are caring for a family member living in the same household who has been assessed by a doctor and is either showing symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive 100% of their pay during the 14-day quarantine period. Beginning week 3, if they are not able to work from home, they will receive a minimum of two-thirds of their pay for up to 10 weeks. If they are working from home, their full pay will be continued.
- Employees who work at a facility that must be closed will receive 100% pay for up to 12 weeks.
- Employees who have to stay home to care for a child because of a school or day care center closure will receive a minimum of two-thirds of their pay for up to 12 weeks if they are not able to work from home.
- Employees are also eligible for free COVID-19 testing, a “Crisis Care” reimbursement of $100 a day for childcare, and access to specially trained mental health professionals.
“There's hardly a pantry in America that does not have a Frito-Lay and Quaker product, and in recent weeks, providing those products has become increasingly challenging,” says Steven Williams, CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America. “Our frontline employees—the people you see stocking your favorite bags of chips or canisters of oats, the people driving those products there and the ones originally making them in plants across the country—are the backbone of PepsiCo Foods and we appreciate their heroic efforts.”
Sofina Foods Inc.
The Canadian company has announced a series of initiatives to recognize its employees and support communities across the country. This includes premium pay to front line employees and access to company products.
“I am incredibly proud of, and grateful for, the passion and dedication of Sofina Foods’ employees during this pandemic,” says Michael Latifi, founder and executive chairman at Sofina Foods. “We are working very hard to balance two critical objectives: The first is taking care of our people and ensuring their safety at work; the second is that we must continue to provide quality food products to our communities in this significant time of need.”
Effective March 25, the company will recognize all its front line employees in production and distribution with a $2 per hour (Canadian) premium pay. Sofina Foods is also providing all of its employees a turkey to enjoy with their family during the upcoming holiday.
Through the Sofina Foundation, the company extended additional support to Canadian communities. The Foundation has significantly increased its donations to foodbanks and local charities across the country over the last few weeks to help feed those who are experiencing hardship during these uncertain times.
“There is no question the past couple of weeks have been challenging for everyone,” Robert Wilt, president and CEO, says. “We understand the essential role our employees play in ensuring the continued supply of safe, quality food to Canadians. We are proud of that responsibility and we take it very seriously.”
The J.M. Smucker Company
The company has announced a series of measures to support its employees as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.
“We understand the uncertainty people are feeling right now, and are committed to do our part to ease some of that concern by supporting our employees and communities, while ensuring people and pets have access to a steady supply of food,” says Mark Smucker, president and CEO, The J. M. Smucker Company.
In addition to implementing extensive sanitation measures and temperature screenings at its locations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep employees safe, the company reports it has introduced the following support measures:
- In an effort to avoid furloughing employees, the company is providing up to 12 weeks of full pay and benefits continuation for employees whose manufacturing or distribution facility is closed or whose roles cannot be performed due to the COVID-19 situation.
- A one-time $1,500 hardship award is being issued to approximately 5,700 employees in manufacturing, distribution and other functions where employees are diligently serving on the ground to ensure the delivery of food to fellow citizens. This award is a gesture of gratitude for how employees have embraced the challenges presented by COVID-19 and to support any financial needs they may have due to the impact of COVID-19.
- Paid sick leave (14 days) will be provided to individuals who must be absent from work to care for dependents or household members who test positive for COVID-19, have COVID-19 symptoms and/or are directed by a medical provider or Company protocol to self-quarantine.
- As a self-insured employer, the Company is paying for 100 percent of COVID-19 testing for employees and all virtual health screenings conducted by the Company's insurance provider.
- Availability of mental health resources are being reinforced to employees across the Company.
- The Company is seeding an assistance fund with $100,000 to support employees significantly impacted by COVID-19.
In a letter to employees, CEO Mark Clouse wrote “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the heroic efforts of our teams at our manufacturing plants, distribution centers and in-store field-based sales, as they work to ensure our neighbors have food during this critical time. As we ask our people to step up to the challenge of meeting the increased demand for food, it’s only right that we reward and recognize the critical role they are playing in maintaining the North American food supply.”
Campbell announced new support for its teams doing mission-critical work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- A $2 per-hour premium payment for hourly employees at all Campbell production facilities and distribution centers.
- A $100 per-week premium payment for front-line supervisors, certain site staff and depot managers who are reporting to work as essential infrastructure workers. This incentive also includes employees who oversee the company’s sales execution teams that are in stores and working with customers and independent distributors to ensure that store shelves are stocked.
These premium payments will be extended to approximately 11,000 front-line team members who make, sell and distribute products to retail customers across the country, the company reports. These temporary benefits, implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be in place for at least five weeks beginning March 29.
According to the letter, these actions are in addition to a number of steps Campbell has already taken to ensure the well-being and safety of its teams, including protocols for identifying potential employee exposure, quarantines, enhanced cleaning procedures and health screenings across its manufacturing network. Campbell has also implemented policies to help manufacturing and distribution employees who may be out of work due to care giving or health-related issues related to the coronavirus, including mitigation plans to bridge income if necessary.
The company is also hiring employees to meet the increased demand.
Mondelēz International U.S.
The New Jersey-based company has announced a series of actions that will enhance its ability as a large U.S. food manufacturer to keep its food supply going and protect its employees, including enhanced benefits and support for its U.S. workforce and the hiring of additional U.S. colleagues.
“As one of the largest food companies in the country, we play a critical role in safeguarding the U.S. food supply,” says Glen Walter, EVP and president, North America. “In this time of heightened need, we are working in close collaboration with customers and local communities to ensure that production lines remain operational, distribution networks continue to work efficiently, and U.S. consumers have access to foods on shelves.”
The company reports that it has already implemented enhanced protocols and protections to provide a safe and sanitary work environment for its colleagues, including significant steps to support employees in manufacturing facilities, distribution and logistics operations and sales organizations. In the U.S., the company announced additional support for its employees, including a $2 per hour increase, based on number of hours worked (paid as a lump sum), from March 23-May 2, for its manufacturing, distribution and sales hourly workforce, as well as a $125 per-week bonus for its sales representatives.
The company reports that these benefits will go to the more than 10,000 frontline colleagues who are making, selling and distributing products to retail partners across the country. In addition, any impacted U.S.-based employees will receive up to two additional weeks of paid leave at 100% of pay, less any statutory pay received for the same period. The company will continue to assess further needs and opportunities to support employees as the situation evolves.
“The health, safety and well-being of our colleagues and communities is our highest priority as we come together to address this unprecedented health crisis. I am so proud of the tremendous dedication and commitment of our teams under these trying circumstances and thank everyone for all that they are doing,” says Walter. “We are committed to providing our people with the support that they need as they ensure the continuity of the U.S. food supply.”
To meet additional marketplace demand and reinforce its current workforce, the company has announced that it expects to hire 1,000 frontline U.S. employees and encourages individuals who may have been displaced by the closing of other businesses to apply for these positions here.
Throughout the country, businesses have been forced to close or scale back operations, furlough employees or reduce hours due to the COVID-19 crisis. Albertsons Companies reports that they are in a unique position to help and have partnered with major companies to provide part-time jobs to their employees who have been furloughed or had their hours cut.
“The most valuable asset and the core of any business is people, and we are working hard with many Human Resource teams across a variety of businesses who are actively defining next steps for their employees,” says president and CEO Vivek Sankaran. “So many businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors are scaling back hours or temporarily closing as their customers remain home and adhere to shelter-in-place orders. We are grateful to be a resource to help fill a critical need in our own business and take care of people who want to continue working during this time of national emergency.”
Supermarket companies are considered “critical infrastructure” according to the federal government and are required to operate during the crisis. To respond to that requirement, Albertsons Cos. is immediately hiring 30,000 new associates. The company fully understands and appreciates that most people will return to their previous jobs when the crisis is over, and the company and partner employers are fully supportive of the other’s efforts to keep people working.
Currently, Albertsons Cos. has secured partnerships with 17 companies, some of which include:
- ASM Global
- BJ’s Restaurants
- G6 Hospitality
- Inspire Brands
- Marriott International
- MGM Resorts
- Regal Cinemas
- G6 Hospitality
Dedicated application sites have been established for employees from participating companies. The partner companies will provide links when they notify their employees about the opportunity for part-time employment with Albertsons Cos.