(Reuters) - Nestle <NESN.S>, the world's biggest food company, said it would pay full salaries for at least three months to employees affected by work stoppages to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The move will cover both part-time and salaried employees as well as those working in its retail operations - the Kit Kat Chocolatory and Nespresso boutiques - which have been temporarily closed in some places, the company said in a statement.
The Nescafe coffee maker, which has 291,000 employees across the world, also said it would provide cash advances or loans to those in financial difficulties, and that it had put in place generous sick leave arrangements for employees who may have contracted the virus.
For Canada, specifically, the Swiss company said it was temporarily raising wages by C$3 (1.7 pounds) per hour for on-duty factory and distribution centre workers, retroactive to March 16, 2020.
It will also pay bonuses to salaried employees of its Canadian factories who cannot work from home.
The company also updated its pay policies for its Canadian hourly and full-time workers hurt by work stoppages, saying that it would cover pay for three months, in line with its global policy, instead of the two months announced earlier.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem and consequently we are offering help on the ground everywhere," Nestle Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider said in a statement.
On Monday, Schneider sent a memo to employees asking them to prepare for the pandemic "storm" that will hit its business."Please get ready for the storm to hit – because hit it will," Schneider wrote in the memo.On Thursday, the company said it was working hard to ensure supplies were maintained and assured customers that it would be able to deliver products to meet the global demand for food, as people stay at home for an extended period of time.
A number of companies are rolling out relief measures for their employees suffering from a financial strain due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Nestle rival Unilever <ULVR.L> said on Wednesday it would pay part-time workers for up to three months and accelerate payments for small and mid-sized suppliers to provide relief during the outbreak, which has shut businesses and caused stock market turmoil globally.
Nestle said it was also partnering with Red Cross to provide the humanitarian agency with supplies and transportation, and was donating 10 million Swiss francs, food, water and medical nutrition products to those most affected by the pandemic.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)