Kroger ends some COVID-era benefits for unvaccinated employees

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Kroger, one of the country’s biggest grocers, is doing away with some COVID-era benefits for unvaccinated employees as part of its push to encourage “safe behaviors” among its roughly 465,000 workers.

The two weeks of paid emergency leave that Kroger has been offering to employees who contract COVID-19 will no longer be extended to the unvaccinated, unless local jurisdictions require otherwise, Kroger told The Washington Post in an email. Workers can still use earned paid time off or apply for unpaid leave.

Additionally, salaried employees who are unvaccinated and enrolled in company health-care plans will also see a monthly $50 surcharge on their accounts starting Jan. 1. The company will continue to reward workers who get the vaccine with a one-time, $100 payment.

“The administration of the vaccine to our associates has been an integral part of our efforts and continues to be a focus,” Kroger said in the statement emailed to The Post. “As we prepare to navigate the next phase of the pandemic, we are modifying policies to encourage safe behaviors including vaccination.”

The move, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as businesses around the country confront the complications of federal vaccination mandates, which are facing formidable legal challenges.

President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, which requires medium and large employers to vaccinate workers or require weekly coronavirus testing by early January, is in limbo after a federal appeals court temporarily halted it in November. Challenges could take it all the way to the Supreme Court.

If the mandate is struck down, it will likely deal a major blow to workforce vaccination efforts. A survey published this week by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 75 percent of businesses would not pursue mandatory vaccination or weekly testing if the mandate is overturned.

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17 thoughts on “Kroger ends some COVID-era benefits for unvaccinated employees

    1. You’re right. If they aren’t smart enough to get vaccinated they aren’t smart enough to work at Kroger.

    1. You’re charged more for insurance if you’re a smoker. That’s been going on for well over a decade now. Does that bother you too?

    2. Apples to oranges, Wesley H. These Kroger employees aren’t buying a product to protect against emergency health costs. They are simply getting paid less because they made a personal health choice they believe to be in the best interest of their own health.

    3. They are getting paid less because they’ve made a health choice with a demonstrably higher risk of incurring large medical bills … same as smoking.

      Unless they go work elsewhere. You know, if enough Kroger employees bail, Kroger will drop this policy.

      Funny how many people don’t want the free market to work…

  1. Their bodies, their choices, right?

    If you don’t like it as a customer, start a protest against Kroger. And if the workers don’t like it, the job market is insane and they can likely find a job with higher wages elsewhere.

    1. This type of worker will likely do just that. I don’t know, but say Meijer, as an example, does not require this. These people will simply go to work for them, Target, or some other place that does not require vaccinations. I’m ok with employers requiring this. However, it could have some consequences for stores like Kroger, which like most, is already suffering from a labor shortage.

  2. This variant isn’t causing hospitalizations quit lying to the public, hospitals have mandated themselves in to this mess. When Krogers cut hours for lack of employees, which is coming, shop at Wal-Mart

    1. “Walmart, the largest private-sector employer in the U.S., is following through on its requirement for corporate-campus staff to be vaccinated by Oct. 4 — a mandate that also applies to market, regional and divisional employees who work in multiple facilities. Front-line store employees will be subject to President Joe Biden’s plan to require personnel at businesses with more than 100 workers to be fully vaccinated or get tested each week.”

    2. “This variant”. Which variant? The words “variant”, “delta”, “omicron” do not appear on this web page before your post, and “variant” and “omicron” appear only at the bottom under “other stories”.
      Care to enlighten us as to what you’re talking about? If you’ve got a point, make it.

    3. if forced vaccination is such a good idea why is the legislative branch of our government NOT required to follow the executive order? If they are provided choice why cant the people that voted them into office also have choice without repercussions?

    4. Jamey R. Business are free to run their business in a way that they believe will keep the employees safe and profits in the black. If employees are making poor health care choices and those choices endanger the smooth operation of the business or burden them with excessive costs, then they should have the choice to let the employee know there are real world consequences to their employees poor choices.

    5. Dan your response is an opinion, being vaccinated doesn’t prevent anyone from getting COVID or prevent the spreading of it.

    1. Kroger is saying if you are vaccinated you dont have to get tested? Sounds like identifying as Transvaccinated is the way to go……….