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Kroger handing out bonuses, adding COVID-19 leave

The nation’s largest grocer is among the employers aiming to help frontline workers with benefits during the pandemic.
By: | March 26, 2020 • 3 min read
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Kroger is offering new benefits to its team of frontline workers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The nation’s largest grocery market chain—which remains open as most other businesses and storefronts temporarily shut down as a result of coronavirus—is providing employee bonuses and expanding emergency leave to help its workers and show appreciation, the retailer says.

“Grocery workers are on the frontlines, ensuring Americans have access to the food and products they need during this unprecedented pandemic,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Our associates are working around the clock to keep our stores open for our customers. I am incredibly grateful for all they are doing. The true heroes in this story are our associates, and we want to provide them with additional resources and support to help them continue their remarkable effort.”

Read all of HRE’s coronavirus coverage here.

The retailer is providing a one-time bonus to every hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing and customer service associate, amounting to $300 for full-time associates and $150 for part-time associates. The bonus will be paid to frontline associates who were hired on or before March 1.

Kroger already handed out $25 gift cards for each employee to assist with buying groceries or other items.

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The company also expanded its COVID-19 emergency leave guidelines to include paid time off for self-isolation and symptoms as verified by an accredited healthcare professional. This expands on the company’s previous guidelines, announced March 14, which allow paid time off for associates diagnosed with or placed under quarantine due to COVID-19. In each scenario, all employees will be eligible to receive their standard pay for up to 14 days. However, like many retailers, Kroger does not offer regular paid sick leave to all of its employees.

Related: 8 benefits employers should zero in on during the COVID-19 pandemic

Other retailers are also updating offerings and handing out bonuses to help workers still working in brick-and-mortar locations.

Walmart recently announced its own bonuses to workers: It will pay $300 to full-time employees and $150 to part-time employees for a total payout of more than $365 million.

Target last week said it will give all its employees access to a backup family care benefit—a plan that was previously offered to some Target workers—to help employees through the pandemic. It also is temporarily waiving its absenteeism policy for employees who experience flu-like symptoms or who are affected by school or daycare closures; and implementing quarantine pay and confirmed illness pay, both lasting 14 days.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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