Beefmaster Group, a leading specialist beef producer based in South Africa for local and global markets, will be paying special COVID-19 bonuses to staff as a way to thank them for ‘sharing the pain’ brought on by the pandemic. This is the first time in the Group’s history where it will be paying a special bonus to almost 1000 people.
“The special bonus, almost equivalent to a 14th cheque or an additional month’s salary, will be given in the spirit of thanking staff for riding out a very tough year in the name of the Group,” says Louw van Reenen, Beefmaster Group CEO.
These figures do not include separate awards under performance-based bonuses and are over and above any other regular financial compensation awarded by the Group to employees.
The pay-outs are welcomed relief to the staff and families of Beefmaster Group employees who will be directly benefiting from the bonuses, with at least 4000 people estimated to be impacted.
“We do not know of any other South African company who has announced a special COVID-19 bonus to honour all staff who worked throughout the pandemic,” says van Reenen.
This news is significant given the economic perils faced by many South African companies as a result of the restrictive lockdown measures imposed earlier this year – from lay-offs and retrenchments to reduced salary pay-outs and business closures.
Amazon, including several other companies based outside of South Africa, made similar announcements recently. The e-commerce retailer, who experienced a boom in sales during the pandemic, will pay out $500 million in holiday bonuses to front-line workers.
Unlike Amazon, Beefmaster Group did not experience a boom in business in 2020, but it decided to go ahead with the special bonus pay-out to staff regardless.
“Financially, volumes, throughput and production at our Kimberley meat processing facility have declined in recent months, which negatively impacted turnover, but we feel that, given the economic circumstances of many South Africans, it is the right thing to do to look after our staff,” explains van Reenen.
Although the Group was lucky enough to be classed as an essential service during the height of the lockdown, it did not escape unscathed. It experienced severe business challenges. Its beef product supply was disrupted due to the forced closure of restaurants and it suffered due to the Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak earlier this year.
The Group will have, by the end of the 2020 year, invested more than R6 million on COVID-19 related matters on its employees. It has also not contemplated pay cuts or business restructuring based on operational requirements, unlike many businesses who have been affected by constrained economic conditions.
“We recognise the importance of rewarding our teams even though uncertainty will continue well into next year, especially as many of our staff were frontline workers during the height of the pandemic and deserve to be thanked for taking on extra risks,” concludes Louw.