While Facing Lawsuits, Tyson Announces Pay for Employees Who Get COVID-19 Vaccine Outside Work

On Wednesday, Tyson Foods announced that as an incentive for its employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination it will allow its employees to receive up to four hours of paid time for being vaccinated outside of their typical work hours. In a press release, the company said vaccinations are “voluntary, but highly encouraged.” 

The company does offer free vaccinations to employees at its locations when available, the additional pay applies for employees who get the vaccine from an outside source. According to the company’s press release hundreds of Tyson Foods employees have been vaccinated already, including health service staff and those over 65, and it expects more to be vaccinated this week. 

“This incentive is an additional way we can encourage our frontline workers to receive the vaccination, which we believe is another important protective measure,” said Johanna Söderström, Tyson Foods executive vice president and chief human resources officer said in the press release. “We’re ready to vaccinate more of our people, especially through the free, on-site vaccination program we’ve developed, however, vaccine availability continues to vary by state.” 

In addition to providing access to the vaccine and encouragement, Tyson said it has taken other steps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including the installation of walk-through temperature scanners, workstation dividers, and social distance monitors and expanding health services staff. “Tyson Foods reports that it continues to experience success in its efforts to protect workers from the virus. The incidence of the virus involving the company’s U.S. team members remains low,” the press release said. 

Tyson Foods is involved in multiple lawsuits alleging its activities at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the deaths of its employees. The company fired seven managers at its plant in Waterloo, Iowa after allegations that they were placing bets on how many employees would catch COVID-19 led to an independent investigation. 

Tyson filed a brief on Wednesday in a lawsuit regarding four deaths of employees who worked at the Waterloo location in the Eighth Circuit, the brief, however, is sealed and not available to the public. Last week, the Eighth Circuit granted a motion to stay the district court’s previous orders to remand the lawsuit back to the state courts.