INDIANAPOLIS — Kroger and its family of companies will pay $100 to every worker that gets the COVID-19 vaccine. The money will be distributed when the employee receives the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the vaccine and shows appropriate proof of vaccination to their human resources representative.
Employees who cannot receive the vaccine because of medical or religious reasons will have the option of completing an educational health and safety course to receive the payment.
Kroger is also thanking employees again, this time with a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points for hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates. Those rewards will be loaded to employees' loyalty cards on Thursday, Feb. 11.
"Through the unknowns of this pandemic, our associates have risen to the challenge and shown the true meaning of Our Purpose—To Feed the Human Spirit," said Tim Massa, Kroger's chief people officer. "Since March, we have invested more than $1.5 billion to both reward our associates and to safeguard our associates and customers through the implementation of dozens of safety measures that we continue to execute today."
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union responded to Kroger's announcement, calling the payment "a positive step," but said the grocery chain failed "to address safety failures that have allowed COVID grocery outbreaks."
"This one-time payment from Kroger is appreciated, but given the way the company has treated its workers during the pandemic, it does not recognize the contribution of these essential workers to our nation or the risks they face daily," UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement.
Perrone also called out Kroger for making "billions in pandemic profits this last year, but the company ruthlessly cut hazard pay for its essential grocery workers last spring."
Kroger began paying employee what the company called "Hero Bonuses" last April, with the final payment coming May 23. The chain made a final one-time payment, paid in two installments on May 30 and June 18, after UFCW branches on the west coast asked Kroger to continue paying the bonuses during the pandemic.
In Friday's statement, Perrone also called on Kroger to provide free vaccine access to workers and "that every Kroger store takes immediate action to prevent future COVID outbreaks as the pandemic continues."
Kroger said that during the pandemic it has welcomed more than 100,000 new employees to the company.