A Tyson Foods plant offering workers a 3-day week will pay them for hours they don't work so they qualify for benefits

·3 min read
Packages of Tyson-brand chicken products are displayed in the refrigerator section of an Associated Supermarket.
Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King said during its earnings call that the company had raised wages.Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images
  • A Tyson Foods plant is rolling out a three-day workweek for some staff in Pennsylvania, LancasterOnline reported.

  • The plant will pay staff for 36 hours a week though they'll work just 27, per the report.

  • Many US workers say they want flexible schedules and shorter hours for a better work-life balance.

A Tyson Foods plant is rolling out a three-day workweek for some of its staff – and will pay them for working 36 hours, though they'll only work 27.

The move means staff who work a three-day workweek at the firm's facility in New Holland, Pennsylvania, will qualify as full-time employees, making them eligible for the company's full package of benefits, including medical, vision, and dental insurance, LancasterOnline reported.

"It's going to give people the opportunity to have that home-life balance, where they can come to work but have that time outside of work to enjoy their families, enjoy their hobbies and other things," Albert Gonzalez, human resources manager for Tyson's two poultry processing plants on the outskirts of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, told the publication. "I think this new schedule will be a great success."

Gonzales said that Tyson had also launched a three-day workweek at a plant in Little Rock, Arkansas, in August.

The unusual move comes as many businesses in the US compete for staff amid a countrywide labor shortage, sparked in part by workers reassessing their careers.

Some workers say the pandemic has given them the opportunity to think about what they want from their workplace and they're now looking for roles with better wages, benefits, and working conditions. That includes jobs with more flexible schedules and shorter hours that would give them a better work-life balance.

The three-day schedule at the New Holland plant will start as a pilot in January, LancasterOnline reported, and staff will work either Monday to Wednesday or Thursday to Saturday. They'll work nine hours each day, plus get an hour paid break and two extra hours of pay, per the report.

LancasterOnline also reported that the New Holland plant had raised its minimum hourly rate from $16 to $17 in September and was giving new hires a sign-on bonus of $3,000.

Nearly 90 people who are currently working the traditional schedule of five or six days a week have already been hired to work the three-day schedule at the New Holland plant, which processes and packages meat from another Tyson facility. LancasterOnline reported that the plant has 334 workers and hoped to add another 200.

Tyson – which said on an earnings call on November 16 that its capacity had been limited "due to labor challenges" – is not the only firm to offer incentives to shore up staffing in order to keep operations on track. Other businesses have been hiking wages and offering benefits, such as college tuition, both to attract new workers and to retain existing ones.

Tyson CEO, Donnie King, said during the same November earnings call that Tyson had raised wages and was back to near-complete staffing. "We believe we've got the worst behind us," he said.

Tyson also announced Monday that it's giving out bonuses totaling around $50 million to its hourly staff across the US, ranging from $300 to $700 a head, based on tenure. The company's average pay is now at more than $18 an hour, it said.

Tyson did not immediately respond to an Insider request for comment that was made outside normal working hours.

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