Two Iowa-based convenience stores have joined the ranks of other businesses that are temporarily increasing pay or giving bonuses to full- and part-time employees working on the front lines to ensure residents have access to food, household supplies and fuel for vehicles during the crisis caused by the worldwide pandemic.

Kum & Go and Casey’s General Stores announced late Thursday that they are temporarily giving workers $2-an-hour pay increases and bonuses. The convenience store chains also are providing paid time off for workers who test positively for the novel coronavirus or who are required to quarantine.

This week Hy-Vee Inc. and Fareway announced similar steps for their workers. In Iowa and elsewhere, residents have either been ordered or strongly urged to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of the highly contagious respiratory virus. While restaurants, bars and many retail stores have been ordered closed in Iowa, grocery and convenience stores remain open. 
“In these unprecedented, challenging times, our store associates have been on the front lines of this national emergency, embodying our core values every day,” Kyle Krause, CEO and chairman of the Des Moines-based Kum & Go, said in a prepared statement. “The commitments we’re making today will ensure our people are able to continue to serve communities in this time of extraordinary need.”

Kum & Go, with 400 locations in the Midwest, has raised the salaries of all store associates and general managers’ pay by $2 an hour, backdated to March 16. The pay increase is in effect until at least May 3. General managers and district supervisors will also receive bonuses. 

Company officials estimate that about 4,700 employees will receive some form of additional pay.
Associates who need to self-quarantine will receive 14 days of paid leave. In addition, employees will be provided with free COVID-19 testing and fees for telehealth services will be waived for workers on Kum & Go’s health plan.

Casey’s, based in Ankeny, is taking similar steps.

“Many communities rely on their local Casey’s for the essentials … and our team members are an important part of those communities,” said Darren Rebelez, Casey’s chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. 

Casey’s, with more than 38,000 employees, has increased the pay of full- and part-time workers by $2 an hour and managers, supervisors and trainers will receive bonus pay of $100 per week. The company has also implemented a paid leave program for workers who must quarantine or who test positive for the virus.

Casey’s officials expect about 98% of workers to receive the extra pay. 

The company, with more than 2,200 convenience stores in 16 states, has also increased the frequency in which “high-touch surfaces” are cleaned. Those areas include counters, restrooms, door handles and fuel pumps.

Casey’s has also closed off seating areas and is asking customers to use disposable cups for coffee and cold fountain drinks. 

Stores in several markets are hiring additional workers to meet the demand for freshly-prepared foods and other items, according to Casey’s release.