Now officially deemed critical infrastructure because of President Donald Trump's executive order aimed at meatpacking plants, Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) doubled its "thank you bonuses" to frontline workers and truck drivers today. The company is also offering workers who fall ill almost full pay during their absence, and will implement extra screening and protective measures to slow COVID-19 transmission at its facilities.
The food industry titan originally set aside $60 million from its budget on March 31 to pay a $500 bonus to 116,000 production and distribution workers. The original plan called for these employees, including truckers, to receive the cash this July.
Now, with the pressure increased and the United State's food supply chain in danger of "breaking" according to the company's statements, the employees will get their first $500 bonus in early May instead. Tyson also allocated another $60 million to the "thank you" payments, bringing the total to $120 million and promising a second distribution of $500 checks in July.
The company says it is stepping up health screening with multiple new protocols to help detect workers who may be sick. In addition to temperature scans, employees will be checked for shortness of breath and cough. Tyson is mandating the wearing of "surgical-style" face masks it supplies, and will task factory monitors with watching and enforcing social distancing on the meatpacking plant floor.
Workers who go home sick will now receive 90% of their ordinary pay through June 30, a step taken to ensure unwell employees temporarily leave the workplace, reducing transmission risk. Several kinds of insurance co-pays will also be waived for the time being. The $500 bonuses, however, are conditional on attendance.