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Kroger to deny unvaccinated employees COVID-19 benefits, adds insurance surcharges

The supermarket chain Kroger said on Tuesday that it will be eliminating paid emergency leave for unvaccinated employees who become infected with COVID-19. Those workers might also be subject to a $50 monthly health insurance surcharge starting in 2022, as stated by a company memo. 

“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,” said a spokesperson. “To accomplish this, we created and amended several workplace policies at the onset of the pandemic to support our associates during immense uncertainty.”

The spokesperson continued, “The administration of the vaccine to our associates has been an integral part of our efforts and continues to be a focus.”

The country’s largest supermarket chain will now be requiring employees to be vaccinated or lose health benefits as well as pay a health insurance surcharge, which was announced in an internal company memo.

Kroger currently employs around 465,000 workers. The change will specifically apply to salaried, nonunion employees who are using the company’s health care plan, the memo says, and employees have also been incentivized to get vaccinated with $100 bonus payments.

The COVID-19 related policy tightening comes as businesses around the country face questions after President Joe Biden’s recent federal vaccine mandate.

Rules issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have said all businesses with over 100 employees must require COVID-19 vaccination for their workers or ensure unvaccinated workers are undergoing weekly testing. Failure to comply with those rules could result in hefty fines. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: IDEASTREAM.ORG

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