Chicken producer George's Inc. of Springdale said it would temporarily raise hourly pay for 7,300 employees as an "appreciation bonus" for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
George's said the bonus would be paid through a $2 hourly raise for workers, retroactive to March 15. The hourly raise would be in effect until at least April 25 and would apply to operational team members and drivers.
"We are especially grateful to our team of frontline professionals across our entire supply chain who have risen to the challenge of meeting the increased demand for food among our customers, consumers and operators," said co-CEO Charles George. "It's only right that we reward and recognize the critical role they all play in maintaining a vital food supply."
The privately held company also said it took steps to ensure its workers' safety in the corporate office, production plants and other facilities. George's said it has waived co-pay requirements for telemedicine and COVID-19 tests and eliminated the wait time for short-term disability or sick pay.
George's said it would use temporal thermometers at any site where essential employees worked.
Other companies have paid bonuses, advanced bonus pay and changed policies around sick leave during the pandemic. Publicly traded meat processor Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell are paying $500 bonuses. Last month, Walmart Inc. of Bentonville, the country's largest employer, announced a total of $550 million in bonus payments to workers.