In an attempt to urge more of its employees to get vaccinated due to COVID-19 cases rising, Kroger is eliminating some benefits for unvaccinated workers.
A spokesperson for the company confirmed that unvaccinated workers will no longer receive up to two weeks of “special” paid emergency leave if they contract the virus.
The changes will go into effect on January 1. Kroger officials also announced a $50 monthly surcharge for unvaccinated salaried workers and managers enrolled in the company’s health care plan. Unionized workers and non-union hourly workers will be excluded from the fee.
Kroger will not give details on the percentage of workers that are vaccinated, but 66% of them are a part of the union.
In a statement, the White House confirmed that Kroger’s policy is not a federal government mandate. Still, they know that several companies are attempting to get as many employees vaccinated as they can.
The White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “We know different private sector companies and entities are going to take different steps to incentivize people to get vaccinated, to keep their employees safe and their workforce safe. It’s not a policy we’re putting out there from the federal government.”
Kroger clarifies that there are still alternatives for employees who catch the virus, including earned paid time off and unpaid leave of absence. For vaccinated workers, “special” leave is accessible.
To encourage more vaccinations among employees, the company is offering $100 incentive payments to those who have been vaccinated.
Kroger continues to follow cleaning protocols, requires employees to wear masks, and encourages social distancing, regardless of vaccination status. Kroger associates interact with as many as 9 million customers daily.
In Texas, Kroger has more than 175 stores and over 2,6000 stores in 34 states, including the District of Columbia.