Tyson Foods continues to keep as many plants open as possible amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Springdale-based meat giant announced Wednesday (April 29) it was doubling the cash bonuses it pays to plant employees and truckers who continue to work during the crisis.
The company is now offering $120 million in “thank you bonuses” to U.S. frontline workers and truckers, up from the $60 million announced in late March. Tyson said it employs about 116,000 in its 249 plants across the country.
Company officials say the first $500 bonus payment will be disbursed in early May. The second $500 bonus will be paid in July. Employees who cannot come to work due to illness or childcare will continue to qualify, but bonus eligibility will depend on attendance.
Company officials have said several plants are running at reduced capacity because of absenteeism and concerns over the coronavirus outbreak that has hit some communities harder than others. Tyson Foods’ pork plants in Indiana and Iowa have been temporarily closed for testing of employees and through plant cleaning. A beef packing plant in Pasco, Wash., also temporarily closed amid increased coronavirus risks. Tyson Foods said its poultry business in Arkansas has been running at near capacity.
Also Wednesday, Tyson Foods said the company is increasing short-term disability coverage and is implementing additional health screening measures. The short-term disability coverage will go to 90% of normal pay until June 30 for employees who are unable to work due to illness.
Tyson Foods said that measure is another way the company is encouraging sick people to stay home. The company continues to check worker temperatures through thermal screens, and worker partitions have been put into place as well social distancing guidelines and continuous sanitization of the facilities. Employees are also required to wear protective equipment over their faces.
“This pandemic is ever-evolving, and the decision to make these changes reflects our desire to continuously explore new ways of supporting our team members through this crisis,” said Mary Oleksiuk, chief human resources officer for Tyson Foods. “The safety and well-being of our people is our top priority as we work together to fulfill our critical role of feeding people across the country.”