SMITHFIELD, VA. – Employees at Smithfield Foods facilities who miss work due to coronavirus exposure or diagnosis will receive a “Responsibility Bonus” provided by the company. Smithfield announced April 14 it will provide $100 million in Responsibility Bonuses to its hourly production and distribution center workers.
“Our nation’s food workers – 40,000 of whom are Smithfield team members in the US – are fighting COVID-19 by embracing their responsibility to safeguard America’s food supply during these unprecedented times,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield. “As a company and a nation, we should reward those who accept responsibility. To the tens of thousands of heroes in our Smithfield Family, thank you for fighting COVID-19 by putting food on tables across America.
“America has abundant livestock supplies. Under normal circumstances, harvest facilities convert those supplies into a bounty of food for the American people, while exporting the remaining surplus to more than 40 countries around the world. Operating America’s harvest facilities is the lynchpin. Failing to operate these plants is not an option anyone wants to fathom. Our employees, together with others in the industry, are the beating heart of these facilities. The nation should be grateful to them.”
The Responsibility Bonus is named for one of the company’s three guiding principles: Responsible Operations, Transparency, and Innovation. The bonus is part of Smithfield’s “Thank A Food Worker” initiative. The company is offering the money “to recognize the selfless sacrifices employees are making to maintain the continuity of our nation’s food supply amid COVID-19,” Smithfield said. As a part of this initiative, Smithfield is encouraging the public to join in expressing gratitude for food workers by posting a social media message using the hashtag #ThankAFoodWorker.
“As we are rewarding employees for their responsibility, we too have a responsibility to minimize their risks of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace,” Sullivan said. “Our protective measures start with processes and protocols that follow CDC guidance and regular and transparent communication with our employees. But there’s a lot more.
“We’ve enhanced cleaning and disinfection, added abundant hand sanitizing stations, boosted personal protective equipment, expanded employee health benefits, increased social distancing, installed plexiglass and other physical barriers, implemented thermal scanning equipment, stressed the importance of personal hygiene and restricted all nonessential visitors. All these measures are on top of the extremely hygienic and sanitary environments maintained at all times in our industry for food safety and quality purposes. We’re ensuring our employees know how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect themselves and others inside and outside of our facilities. We are laser focused on our employees’ health and wellbeing and are immediately taking all necessary actions to protect them.”
More information on Smithfield’s COVID-19 response can be found here.