CINCINNATI —Kroger Co. said it will provide a one-time payment of $100 to all associates who receive the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The company also announced an additional $50 million investment to thank and reward associates across its 35-state footprint, including a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points for hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates. Both rewards will be loaded to associates’ loyalty cards on Thursday, February 11.
The one-time $100 vaccine payment will be offered to all associates who receive the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and present appropriate proof of vaccination to their human resources representative, the retailer said. Associates who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical or religious reasons will have the option of completing an educational health and safety course to receive the payment.
“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. We’ve also welcomed more than 100,000 new associates to The Kroger Family of Companies. As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, we’re increasing our investment to not only recognize our associates’ contributions, but also encourage them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available to them to optimize their well-being as well as the community’s.”
In addition to the new vaccine payment and associate rewards, Kroger has taken numerous actions to support associates during this extraordinary time, the company said. They include:
- Providing additional pay, multiple special bonuses and rewards that are available to view at KrogerCovidResponse.com
- Offering COVID-19 testing to associates based on symptoms and medical need
- Continuing to advocate on behalf of frontline associates to have priority access to the vaccine
- Providing COVID-19 Emergency Leave to associates most directly affected by the virus or experiencing related symptoms and providing paid time off
- Requiring and supplying masks for associates and encouraging them to stay home if they are sick
- Requiring customers to wear masks in stores, or alternatively, encouraging the use of e-commerce services
- Providing comprehensive benefits packages, including healthcare coverage and retirement benefits
- Making $15 million available through the company’s Helping Hands fund to provide financial support to associates experiencing certain hardships due to COVID-19
- Making mental health resources readily available
- Continuing implementation of customer capacity limits
- Continuing the use of safety partitions and physical distancing floor decals
“We know that the most effective defense against this pandemic comes in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine and the continuation of the rigorous safety precautions we’ve established across our stores, manufacturing facilities and supply chain,” said Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger’s chief medical officer. “We are strongly encouraging all customers and associates to receive the vaccine to curb the spread of COVID-19, and we’ll do all we can to ensure they have access as soon as it’s available.”
As one of the most-accessible health care partners in the U.S., Kroger Health continues to play a critical role in helping distribute the vaccine in collaboration with public health officials and community partners. As of Feb. 5, Kroger Health professionals have administered more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines to essential health care workers, skilled-nursing facility employees and residents and some elderly populations.
Kroger Health continues to hire to fill the need for 1,000 additional health care personnel, including pharmacy technicians, to support operations and the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. Kroger Health is also committed to training current associates. To view opportunities and apply, visit Jobs.Kroger.com.
In addition to COVID-related reward and safety measures, Kroger said it has been investing to raise the wages of frontline associates for the last several years. As part of Restock Kroger, over the period of 2018 to 2020, Kroger invested an incremental $800 million in associate wage increases, reflecting $300 million more than the original plan. As a result of this continuing investment, the average wage rate has increased to over $15 per hour. And with the company’s comprehensive and best-in-class benefits like healthcare, paid time off and retirement plans – including pensions, the average hourly rate is over $20. Additionally, in November 2020, the company committed to investing nearly $1 billion to help secure and stabilize pensions for associates.