COVID-19 Response

Our top focus: Keeping associates safe

Our COVID-19 Response
Safety has always been integral to our culture, and with COVID-19, safety is our top priority. We have quickly and aggressively enhanced our safety protocols and practices to provide safe workplaces for our associates during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Throughout the crisis, we have been guided by reputable health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Occupational Safety & Health Association (OSHA), in addition to adhering to applicable local and federal directives. 

Our organization-wide, cross-functional COVID-19 project management office (PMO) has been coordinating our COVID-19 response since February 2020. The PMO discusses challenges, opportunities, trends and shares best practices so that our entire Company can benefit from our collective experiences in this quickly-changing environment. 

Keeping our Associates Safe at Work
At Fortune Brands, our company purpose is fulfilling the dreams of home. Our products – especially now – play a critical role in people’s lives as millions of people are spending a great deal more time in their homes. Throughout the pandemic, our products have largely been deemed essential by local, state and federal officials. Due to our strong safety measures, our operations have been able to remain open with few exceptions where temporary closures have been needed due to local government edicts or where our team felt a temporary closure was required. 

Examples of some of our enhanced safety measures during this pandemic include: 

  • Requiring that employees work at home when possible.
  • Relaxing attendance policies to provide more flexibility for our associates.
  • Establishing strict protocols for managing exposure.
  • Increased cleaning and sanitizing, including by 3rd parties.
  • Providing cleaning products, tools and other Personal Protective Equipment, including masks, face coverings and hand sanitizer, for employees to use at work and home.
  • Proactively mandating face covers be worn in the vast majority of our locations, ahead of face mask mandates.
  • Instituting temperature and health checks.
  • Multiple measures to increase physical distance within our facilities, such as adding extra shifts, staggering start & finish times, adjusting workstations to increase space or adding barriers between stations.
  • In the few instances where we have needed to temporarily close operations and furlough associates due to community spread, the company has continued to provide employer-sponsored health insurance, and has paid both the employee portion and company cost of associates’ medical, dental and vision premiums.

Many of our operations continue to hire throughout this period to accommodate for associates taking time off work, and to help us fulfill our customer commitments as the housing and home products market experiences better-than-anticipated demand.

Enhancing Benefits
As the COVID-19 outbreak began, we relaxed our Short Term Disability policy to waive the waiting period, allowing associates to begin collecting benefits immediately. In many instances, we relaxed attendance policies to provide more flexibility for our associates.

We made all telemedicine visits through our benefits plan free for four months, to correspond with the height of the Spring U.S. outbreak. This helped our associates and their dependents quickly and easily get help from licensed medical professionals without making a trip to the doctor’s office. We further enhanced our telemedicine offering by adding a new behavioral health benefit, allowing associates to speak with a licensed counselor, therapist or psychiatrist for support. These mental health visits were also free to associates for the four-month period. Throughout the pandemic, we have also encouraged associates to take advantage of the Company’s existing Employee Assistance Program, which provides free sessions with professional counselors for our associates and their dependents. 

Our teams continue to asses the situation and our benefits offerings to ensure we can meet our business commitments and provide support to our associates.

Education, Communication and Community
Through virtual town hall meetings, daily huddles, email communications, increased on-site signage and our internal mobile app for employees, Fortune Brands has been emphasizing the serious nature of the virus, precautions for how to stay safe, and what to do if experiencing illness. We stress the importance of physical distancing wherever possible, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water; using hand sanitizer when unable to wash hands; not coming to work when feeling sick, awaiting COVID-19 test results or after having been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive for the virus; and wearing a face mask. 

Since COVID-19 first hit our communities, health professionals have learned that wearing face masks is a key factor in stopping the spread of the virus. The vast majority of our plants and facilities require face covers to be worn while at work. To encourage wearing masks outside our facilities, Fortune Brands created an internal #MasksAreCool campaign to help bring attention to the importance of masks and normalize their use in public places. 

In a further display of the importance of safety education at work and at home, Fortune Brands provided home health kits to all of its 25,000 global associates. The kits included a home health assessment notecard, with instructions on what to look for before coming to work and when to stay home, disposable face masks, a face mask strap adjuster, hand sanitizer, thermometer and a no-touch tool to reduce contact with surfaces when in public places.

Our brands have also been leaders in the community to provide assistance to those in need. Some examples include:

  • Providing Product:  Master Lock has donated $50,000 in locks and lock boxes to healthcare workers to protect their scarce personal protective equipment. Moen provided faucets and accessories to a veteran’s center in California that has been converted to a COVID-19 response hospital, now outfitted to treat and support COVID-19 patients. 
  • Manufacturing PPE: Across the organization, including Moen’s headquarters and Therma-Tru’s innovation center, our locations with 3-D printers have been fabricating face shields and donating them to local hospitals. The largest producer has been our Therma-Tru plant in Matamoros Mexico, which has manufactured and donated more  than 20,000 face shields to local hospitals and care facilities. 
  • Community Education: Handwashing and good hygiene are important components in stopping the transmission of COVID-19. However, many American are at risk of water shutoffs in their homes. Moen is adding its voice to support a moratorium on water shutoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Mexico, the MasterBrand team has been working with local officials on a “Clean Hands Save Lives” awareness campaign where MasterBrand has donated vanities to the cities where we operate as part of an effort to drive awareness towards washing hands. 
  • Supporting Local Communities:  Several facilities have supported local food banks as economic uncertainty has created hardship. The Global Plumbing Group associates donated $10,000, which the GPG matched, to the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. MasterBrand Cabinets provided lunches throughout one of the most high-stress weeks to their local officials in Jasper, Huntingburg, and Ferdinand to show appreciation for their continued support. The Cabinets team in Mexico did something similar by providing daily meals throughout April to local emergency responders, city police, firefighters, food banks, nursing homes, and public service agencies. Not only were these signs of appreciation welcome to the first responders, they also help to support local restaurants. Fortune Brands locations have also held blood drives and donated supplies to local organizations. 

Looking Forward 
We continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and will continue to be agile in how we adapt to keep our associates safe while successfully serving our customers.