While the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is still slowly being rolled out, one major food manufacturer is already going public with its plan to encourage employees to get the shot.
Chobani President and COO Peter McGuinness said in a Jan. 22 LinkedIn post that the company will give its employees up to six hours of paid time off to get vaccinated — devoting three hours for each of the two vaccine doses when it’s available for them to receive.
McGuinness said, “It’s simple, fair and the right thing to do. Our plant employees have been on the frontlines of putting food on America's kitchen tables 24/7 during this pandemic. They’re the heart of our company and we'll do whatever we can to protect them.”
Norwich, New York-based Chobani, best known for its yogurt products, is reportedly working with state and local officials about opportunities for its employees to be vaccinated.
Food supply chain workers weren’t included in phase one of any U.S. state’s first phase of the vaccine rollout, but food workers are part of almost every state’s planned phase 2, which looks to span February and March.
McGuinness added that Chobani is also looking into hosting on-site vaccination clinics as soon as food processing workers become eligible. Meanwhile, the company is already helping vaccination efforts in its communities by providing Chobani products at hospitals and vaccination sites.
The vaccine effort isn’t the only step Chobani has taken on behalf of its employees recently. In October, the company announced it was raising the starting wage for all hourly employees to at least $15 an hour effective January 3. At its production plants in South Edmeston, New York, and Twin Falls, Idaho, the raise makes the average hourly wage about $19 an hour.