The Kroger Co. will eliminate some benefits for unvaccinated workers as the grocery chain tries to get more of its workforce vaccinated. Unvaccinated workers will see a $50 monthly surcharge for their company health plan and will no longer be eligible to receive up to two weeks of paid emergency leave if they become infected, which was put in place when vaccines were unavailable a company spokesperson confirmed to news outlets.
“We have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years and, in line with our values, the safety of our associates and customers has remained our top priority,” the spokesperson said. “To accomplish this, we created and amended several workplace policies at the onset of the pandemic to support our associates during immense uncertainty.”
The new change will go into effect Jan. 1. The monthly surcharge will apply only to salaried, nonunion employees enrolled in the company’s healthcare plan. With fears of the omicron variant of COVID-19 on the rise, Kroger offers a $100 payment to its workers to get vaccinated.
According to The Associated Press: “Kroger said in an email that it will still offer various leave options for employees who contract the virus, including earned paid time off and the ability to apply for unpaid leave. What Kroger called a ‘special’ leave will only remain available to fully vaccinated associates.”
The Cincinnati-based company, which earlier this month boasted high third-quarter earnings, operates 2,750 grocery retail stores and is the country’s largest traditional grocery chain.