Sobeys bringing back pay premiums, LifeLabs giving hero recognition bonuses

Sobeys Inc. is bringing back pay premiums for staff in locations where coronavirus lockdowns are in effect.

Parent company Empire Co. Ltd. has reinstated ‘hero pay’ in Manitoba, Toronto and Ontario’s Peel Region as rising cases of the virus in those areas have prompted the shutdown of non-essential businesses.

Each week, eligible employees will see between $10 and $100 added to their pay, depending on how many hours they work and how long the government lockdowns last. Empire said it currently expects to spend $5 million per quarter on the program, but that could change if further lockdowns are introduced.

Read: Home Depot expanding paid time off, doubling overtime pay

The company offered extra money to employees early in the pandemic, but when cases began to decrease and lockdowns were lifted, it was stopped. Michael Medline, president and chief executive officer at Empire, promised that if regions ever entered lockdowns similar to those experienced in March and April, he would bring back a way to reward staff for their hard work.

“Our teammates continue to work tirelessly to keep our stores safe and our communities fed. Launching the lockdown bonus, in the face of new government mandated lockdowns, was simply the right thing to do,” he said in an email to The Canadian Press. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our teammates’ efforts to keep stores open, shelves stocked and Canadian families fed have been nothing short of heroic.”

Read: Amazon extending increased hourly pay through May

In other news, LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services is providing its frontline employees with ‘health-care heroes recognition bonuses’ as many regions across Canada battle the coronavirus pandemic’s second wave. 

Eligible employees will receive lump-sum payments of $1,850 for full-time employees, $1,450 for part-time employees and $950 for casual workers. More than 250 workers across the Greater Toronto Area and Simcoe County, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, will receive a bonus. 

“We have had our differences with this employer at the bargaining table and with its efforts to block its workers’ constitutional right to join a union,” said Warren Thomas, OPSEU’s president, in a press release. “But we also give credit where credit is due and LifeLabs deserves credit for recognizing the vital work that its employees are doing during this pandemic.”

Read: Lowe’s Canada paying bonus to eligible employees