Nestlé, the world's biggest food company, said it would pay full salaries to employees affected by work stoppages for a minimum of three months, to protect them from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Swiss company, parent of St. Louis-based Nestlé Purina PetCare, also said it would temporarily raise wages by $3 per hour for on-duty factory and distribution center workers in Canada, retroactive to March 16.
Additionally, it would pay bonuses to employees of its Canadian factories who cannot work from home, and salaries for up to eight weeks to those in retail operations, which have been temporarily closed, Nestlé Canada said in a statement.
Globally, part-time and salaried employees hurt by any temporary shortages caused by coronavirus would be paid in full for a period of three months, said the company, which has 291,000 employees across the world.
The Kit-Kat chocolate and Nescafe coffee maker also said it would provide cash advances or loans to those in financial difficulties, and that it had put in place generous sick leave arrangements for employees who may have contracted the virus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem and consequently we are offering help on the ground everywhere,” Nestlé Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider said in a statement.
On Monday, Schneider sent a memo to employees asking them to prepare for a “storm” that will hit its business.
“Please get ready for the storm to hit — because hit it will,” Schneider said.
On Thursday, the company said it was working hard to ensure supplies were maintained and assured customers that it would be able to deliver products to meet the global demand for food, as people stay at home for an extended period of time.
A number of companies are rolling out relief measures for their employees suffering from a financial strain due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Nestlé rival Unilever said on Wednesday it would pay part-time workers for up to three months and accelerate payments for small and mid-sized suppliers to provide relief during the outbreak, which has shut businesses and caused stock market turmoil globally.
Nestlé said it was also partnering with Red Cross to provide the humanitarian agency with supplies and transportation, and was donating 10 million Swiss francs, food, water and medical nutrition products to those most affected by the pandemic.
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