Food retailers are looking for ways to keep rewarding the pandemic work of employees.
As pandemic bonuses wind down, H-E-B said this week that it would institute permanent “merit” pay increases for its workers.
The food retail chain phased out its “Texas Proud” pandemic pay program on Sunday in favor of what it calls “accelerated and enhanced pay increases for store, manufacturing and supply chain hourly non-management partners.”
Through the Texas Proud program, workers earned $2 more per hour in honor of all the work associated with helping to operate retail locations deemed essential. H-E-B did not detail the amount of the new increases.
But it did say that “this is the largest investment in pay in the history of H-E-B. Additionally, we will continue our ongoing investments in pay and other perks and benefits for all partners across the company.” H-E-B says it has some 120,000 employees, or “partners.”
Food retailers began offering such bonuses early in spring as the lockdowns began and consumers flocked to grocery stores and supermarkets and other food sellers allowed to remain open.
Those bonuses and extra pay programs are now expiring, at least in general, though pressure remains high to keep rewarding food retail workers. Just a few days ago, in fact, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores and other businesses, has called on major supermarket chains such as The Kroger Co. to reinstate hazard pay following news reports that cases of the coronavirus are at record highs in at least 10 states.
H-E-B also said it would extend other benefits to some employees as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.
“At H-E-B, the majority of our Partners earn paid time off and sick leave,” the food retail chain said. “We have also extended medical leave to all partners and in the event that one of our partners is diagnosed with coronavirus, they will receive pay.”
With 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 17 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food retailers in North America.