Kroger’s COVID policy: Grocery chain to end paying employees not vaccinated due to coronavirus

Kroger, the country’s largest brick-and-mortar grocery chain, is ending some benefits for unvaccinated workers as big bosses try to force more of their workforces into vaccinations as COVID-19 cases are on the rise again.

A company spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that unvaccinated workers will no longer be eligible for up to two weeks of paid emergency leave if they become infected. That policy was introduced last year when a vaccine was unavailable.

The Cincinnati Company has confirmed the interest changes first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The change takes effect January 1.

The company said it will also begin charging a $50 monthly fee to unvaccinated salaried employees and managers who are on the company’s wellness plan. Union hourly workers and non-union hourly workers will not be charged that fee.

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Kroger has nearly 500,000 employees in the US; 66% belong to a union. The company would not say what percentage of its workers are vaccinated.

The White House on Tuesday made it clear that Kroger’s policy — which includes a $50 monthly fee — is not one the federal government is promoting. President Joe Biden supports the mandate to vaccinate big companies, but that plan is facing legal opposition. Meanwhile, many companies are still trying to get as many of their employees vaccinated as possible.

“We know different companies and private organizations will be taking different steps to encourage people to get vaccinated, to keep them safe,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news conference on Tuesday. safety for employees and their workforce”. “That’s not the policy we’re in as a federal government.”

Kroger said it will still offer a variety of leave options for employees who contract the virus, including paid time off and the ability to take unpaid leave. What Kroger calls “special” leave will be available only to fully vaccinated associates.

Early last year, Kroger implemented an emergency leave that allows paid leave for any worker diagnosed with COVID-19. All employees are eligible to receive their standard pay for up to 14 days.

As Kroger revised some of its policies, the company said it would continue to encourage workers to get vaccinated with a $100 payment given to all fully vaccinated employees.

Kroger employees interact with 9 million customers daily. When asked if the new policy might encourage some employees to come to work even if they are sick, a Kroger spokesperson said the company continues to practice enhanced hygiene and physical distancing. and require employees to wear masks in all of its stores and offices, regardless of immunization status.

Kroger isn’t the first company to move away from fiduciary duty altogether, instead trying to coerce employees through company-sponsored health plans.

Delta Airlines announced in August that it will charge employees in its corporate health plan $200 a month if they don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. The airline also said at the time that it would stop extending its pay protection for unvaccinated workers to contract COVID-19 on September 30 and would require workers who have not been Vaccinations must be checked weekly starting September 12, although Delta will cover the cost. Unvaccinated employees are also required to wear masks in all corporate indoor settings.

Copyright © 2021 by Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Kroger’s COVID policy: Grocery chain to end paying employees not vaccinated due to coronavirus

Dais Johnston

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