Kroger to take away paid Covid benefits, add insurance surcharges for unvaccinated employees

Kroger employees put groceries in totes. The totes are taken up by a grid where the robots can retrieve items.

Kroger said Tuesday that it will take away paid leave for unvaccinated employees who get Covid-19 and require some of them to pay a monthly health insurance surcharge.

The changes will take effect on New Year's Day. The new policies are meant to encourage staff to get the Covid vaccines. She said that the company still offers a $100 incentive to employees who are fully vaccine free.

She said in a statement that they are modifying policies to encourage safe behaviors as they prepare for the next phase of the Pandemic.

A company spokeswoman said non-union employees who are unvaccinated and enroll in the company's health insurance plan will have to pay a $50 monthly surcharge. If an employee gets a breakthrough case, they are eligible for paid Covid-19 leave.

The Kroger news was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The spread of the omicron variant creates new uncertainty about how businesses should operate and when corporate employees will return to the office. Regardless of vaccination status, New York and California have reinstated mask mandates. Retailers are reminding customers to wear masks before entering, similar to the signs that appeared in the earlier months of the Pandemic. Some companies, including Google, have delayed plans to require employees to return to work in January.

According to a regulatory filing, Kroger has about 465,000 workers.

Other companies have added penalties for employees who don't get Covid vaccinations. Unvaccinated Delta Air Lines employees will have to pay a $200 monthly surcharge for health insurance.