Kroger to end some COVID-19 benefits for unvaccinated workers
nation’s largest traditional grocery chain, ends some benefits for unvaccinated workers as large employers try to force more of their workforce to get vaccinated, COVID cases -19 increasing again.
Unvaccinated workers will no longer be able to receive paid emergency leave for up to two weeks if they are infected, a company spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday. This policy was put in place last year when vaccines were not available.
The Cincinnati-based company confirmed the changes in benefits first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The change is effective January 1.
The company said it would also start charging a monthly fee of $ 50 to salaried workers and unvaccinated managers who are enrolled in a company health care plan. Unionized workers and non-union hourly workers will not pay these fees.
Kroger has nearly 500,000 employees in the United States; 66% belong to a union. The company will not say what percentage of its employees are vaccinated.
See also: Most employers say they won’t need vaccines if courts block Biden’s tenure
The White House made it clear on Tuesday that Kroger’s policy – including the $ 50 monthly fee – is not what the federal government is promoting. President Joe Biden is backing a vaccine tenure at big business, but the plan faces legal opposition. In the meantime, many companies are still trying to vaccinate as many of their employees as possible.
“We know that different companies and entities in the private sector are going to take different measures to encourage people to get vaccinated, to ensure the safety of their employees and their workforce,” said the press secretary. White House Jen Psaki at her briefing Tuesday. “This is not a policy that we are proposing from the federal government. “
Kroger said he would still offer various leave options to employees who contract the virus, including paid time off and the ability to request unpaid leave. What Kroger called “special” leave will only remain available for fully vaccinated associates.
Early last year, Kroger implemented emergency leave that granted paid time off to any worker diagnosed with COVID-19. All employees were eligible to receive their standard salary for up to 14 days.
As Kroger changes some of its policies, the company said it will continue to encourage workers to get vaccinated with payments of $ 100 made to all fully vaccinated employees.
Kroger employees interact with up to 9 million customers daily. Asked whether the new policy might encourage some employees to come to work even if they are sick, a spokesperson for Kroger said the company continues to implement improved cleaning and physical distancing and is forcing employees to wear masks in all of its stores and offices, regardless of immunization status.
Kroger isn’t the first company to shy away from an outright mandate, instead trying to coerce employees through company-sponsored health plans.
Delta Airlines DAL,
announced in August that it would charge employees of the company’s health plan $ 200 per month if they did not get vaccinated against COVID-19. The airline also said at that time it would stop extending wage protection to unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19 on September 30 and require unvaccinated workers to be tested weekly from September 12, although Delta will cover the cost. Unvaccinated employees should also wear masks in all indoor company environments.