United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has established safety protocols, added further flexibility and provided incentives for front-line distribution center associates during the COVID-19 national state of emergency.
"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 CEO. "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."
New policies include:
- Full- and part-time direct-labor associates and drivers 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
- Adapted attendance policies and productivity expectations to make sure the quality and safety of America's food supply is maintained
- Fortified safety for drivers and warehouse associates
- 14 additional days of paid sick leave for associates if they're diagnosed with COVID-19
- Up to 14 days of additional paid leave for associates if a facility is closed due to COVID-19
- Allocated funds to support grants to associates experiencing COVID-19 financial hardships from UNFI Assist, UNFI's umbrella for its corporate social responsibility program.
"Our associates have done a tremendous job keeping UNFI's supply chain secure and stable as customer demand has surged to unprecedented levels," noted 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 well-being at all times."
Among other grocery industry players, Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers and Reading, Pa.-based Redner's Markets have also offer pay raises to workers for at least "as long as this period of increased business continues," in the words of Redner's President/CEO Ryan S. Redner.
Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, ecommerce retailers and foodservice customers. Combined with Supervalu, UNFI is the largest publicly traded grocery distributor in the United States, and is No. 30 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.