NZ supermarkets lift wages during coronavirus outbreak

Countdown supermarket and Foodstuffs said they will be giving their retail workers a pay raise for the hours they put in during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Countdown’s supermarket and distribution centre team members will be getting a bonus equivalent to an extra 10 per cent per hour worked over the course of the four-week Level 4 alert lockdown.

The company also said from September, Countdown team members with 12 months or more service will earn a minimum of the living wage of $21.15 an hour.

The coronavirus pandemic-related pay bump for supermarket workers is just the latest instance of the changes brought about the COVID-19 outbreak.

Last week, the company hired 500 new staff members to help with the rising demand during the crisis.

Countdown said it has also been paying members of its team who are required to self-isolate due to travel since February, and is also paying any team members the government has deemed to be high risk to COVID-19 including those over 70, immune deficient and those with serious chronic illness.

Salaried teams in stores and distribution centres are also being paid for their additional hours to recognise the extra effort they put in in a normal week.

Natalie Davis, Countdown managing director, said paying the team more reflects the essential service they are providing the country.

“Caring for our team is very important to us, and more than ever at the moment, their health, safety and wellbeing is our utmost priority,” Davis said,

“We have been doing a number of things to support our team as they provide an incredible and essential service to communities across New Zealand.”

According to Davis, management is working directly with those in the team who are unable to work during the lockdown period for any reason, such as caring for dependants, to make sure they are supported with discretionary leave.

The company has also increased its staff discount for food and groceries from 5 per cent to 10 per cent.

“We also provide all our frontline and DC team with meals during any of their shifts.”

Countdown is currently working closely with a number of customer-focused organisations such as Hospitality NZ and others who have been impacted by COVID-19 and the lockdown.  

Customers will also start to see specials return in stores nationwide over the course of this week and next, Countdown stated, as supplies rebuild and the country starts to settle into a calmer shopping pattern.

At this point, Countdown said they are prioritising customers in need for online delivery like customers who are over 70, have serious chronic illness, are self-isolating due to recent travel or have a physical disability that prevents them from shopping in any Countdown stores. 

“More than 16,000 customers have now been accepted for this service,” the company said. “Countdown is working hard to increase delivery window availability for these customers and encourages customers who can shop in stores to do so, to enable online services to be prioritised for those in need.”


Foodstuffs announced last Sunday it will be paying its workers 10 per cent extra for working through the lockdown and has allowed vulnerable workers to stay home on paid special leave.

The supermarket chain said all waged front-line, distribution and transport employees across Pak ‘n Save, New World and Four Square brands would receive the pay raise.

Those eligible will be given a 10 per cent allowance on top of their pay for hours worked during the COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown.

According to an article on Stuff.co.nz, Foodstuffs confirmed that vulnerable employees would be paid and would be supported as they self-isolate at their homes. Those affected by the virus would be able to access paid special leave.

“We’ve been totally focused on keeping shelves full and ensuring our customers and teams are safe,” said Foodstuffs North Island chief executive Chris Quin. “Now that we have a better handle on these things, it’s time to clear up how we’re supporting our committed and essential team members.”

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