The grocery chain will no longer provide two weeks of paid emergency leave for unvaccinated employees who contract COVID-19. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which cited a memo from Kroger.
The move comes after a mandate from the Biden administration, which requires private employers with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated against COVID-19, was struck down in the courts. While Kroger does not have to require its workers to get vaccinated or test weekly for COVID-19, the retailer’s move signals it is encouraging its workforce to get vaccinated and is still making policy changes as uncertainty over the mandate remains.
In addition to eliminating the extra paid time off, unvaccinated workers are faced with an extra $50 monthly surcharge for their company health plans. Both policies begin Jan. 1, 2022.
Kroger is one of the largest private employers in the U.S. with more than half a million full- and part-time employees. The retailer is also encouraging employees to get vaccinated with a $100 incentive.
“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,” a Kroger spokesperson said in a statement. “To accomplish this, we created and amended several workplace policies at the onset of the pandemic to support our associates during immense uncertainty.”