UNFI increases wages during pandemic

unfiUnited Natural Foods Inc. announced that it has established safety protocols, added additional flexibility and provided incentives for the front line distribution center associates providing America with essential services during the COVID-19 national state of emergency. In an internal memo the company also told employees it would temporarily increase all of its hourly teammates' wages. With the current state of emergency that it is operating within, the company's stores have seen sales literally double over night.

"As Americans continue to look to us to help keep stores across the country well-stocked during this national emergency, we are fully committed to supporting our valued associates and working to meet their needs," said Steven L. Spinner, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our 21,000 associates are at the very heart of the food distribution sector's around-the-clock effort to keep America fed and prepared amidst the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. We hope our new protocols will provide an important degree of assurance and comfort to our world-class workforce, especially as cases inevitably increase in the weeks ahead and deliveries become more difficult amidst widespread business closures."

Hourly teammates wages will increase by $2 per hour for all hours worked. This temporary adjustment is effective this past Sunday, March 15 and will continue through Saturday, April 11. In addition to the $2 per hour temporarily added to all hourly wages, the company will be also increasing overtime rates to double the new rate per hour, rather than time and one-half rate.

UNFI is putting in place several new protocols designed to provide assurance and safety to our workforce, including:

  • Full-time and part-time direct labor associates and drivers will receive a Temporary State of Emergency Bonus of $2 per hour on top of their regular wages and overtime hours for time worked through March 31;
  • Enhanced flexibility and exceptions will be enacted to adapt attendance policies and productivity expectations to make sure the quality and safety of America's food supply is maintained in the face of unprecedented demand;
  • Fortified safety for our drivers and warehouse associates through these times of unprecedented volume;
  • 14 additional days of paid sick leave for associates if they are diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Up to 14 days of additional paid leave for associates if a facility is closed due to COVID-19; and;
  • UNFI Assist, UNFI's umbrella for its corporate social responsibility program has also allocated funds to support grants to associates experiencing COVID-19 financial hardships.

"Our associates have done a tremendous job keeping UNFI's supply chain secure and stable as customer demand has surged to unprecedented levels," said Paul Green, chief supply chain officer. "They continue to go the extra mile and put the needs of our customers first despite long hours and large workloads. This is why we, in turn, will continue to do whatever is in our power to prioritize their health and wellbeing at all times."

Jill Sutton, chief legal officer, added, "We have robust business planning and continuity programs in place that our teams are executing on with tremendous focus, effective protocols and care for our workforce. We believe these efforts will continue to allow us to keep our associates and our communities safe. We will not be deterred from carrying out our essential mission of providing the high-quality food products that our customers have come to expect of us during this critical time."

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