As part of their commitment to team member health and safety, JBS USA and Pilgrim's has announced an enhancement to the company's health plan to cover 100% of costs associated with COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment. This is in addition to free COVID-19 testing that has been available for the company's team members since March.
With implementation of this policy, no JBS USA or Pilgrim's team member enrolled in the company's plan will pay an out-of-pocket health expense associated with coronavirus. This benefit is also available to family members who are enrolled in the health plan as dependents.
"As we continue to face a time of great uncertainty due to the pandemic, we wanted to provide additional support to our team members and their families in a meaningful way," says Andre Nogueira, chief executive officer, JBS USA. "We are fortunate to be able to eliminate COVID-19 healthcare costs for our team members and their families. We strongly believe this is the right thing to do during the greatest challenge of our generation. This is just one of the ways we are prioritizing the health and safety of our workforce, and we will continue learning, adapting and doing all we can to protect our team members."
The change is retroactive to March 1. If any team members or their dependents incurred eligible out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment under the company health plan since March 1, they will be reimbursed for their costs. Moving forward, those enrolled in the health plan will pay no deductible or co-insurance, and their respective Health Reimbursement Account funds will not be used to cover any of the costs.
JBS USA and Pilgrim's also conduct free, random surveillance testing of asymptomatic team members at its facilities to help quickly identify potential introduction of COVID-19 from the community into its plants and mitigate any potential spread through immediate quarantine and contact tracing procedures.
JBS USA and Pilgrim's have invested more than $200 million in health and safety measures to protect its workforce, more than $160 million in increased wages and bonuses, and $50 million to support local communities through the company's Hometown Strong initiative.
Throughout the pandemic, hundreds of safety interventions have been implemented to provide a safe working environment for JBS USA and Pilgrim's team members, including screening and temperature checking all employees prior to entering facilities, staggering start times and break times to promote physical distancing, requiring the use of masks and face shields, erecting physical barriers where possible, installing ultraviolet germicidal air sanitation and plasma bipolar ionization technologies to neutralize potential viruses in the air, and removing vulnerable populations with full pay and benefits. The company also amended its attendance and bonus policies to remove any potential unintended incentives to work while sick.