Kroger to remove some COVID-19 benefits for unvaccinated employees

December 14 (Reuters) – Kroger Co (KR.N) to end some COVID-19 benefits for unvaccinated employees starting next year, as the supermarket chain pushes more workers to get vaccinated amid growing concerns about the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The company will no longer provide paid COVID-19 leave to unvaccinated employees and will apply a monthly health insurance surcharge of $ 50 to unorganized salaried workers who are unvaccinated and enrolled in a corporate health care plan, said Tuesday a spokesperson for Kroger.

Companies have tried other ways to get their employees vaccinated, such as educational campaigns and incentive programs, but have not seen the desired results, Wade Symons, head of the regulatory resources group, told Reuters. from Mercer Benefits Company.

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“I think employers sort of see reaching employees in the portfolio as a real motivator that… should increase immunization levels.”

The headquarters of the Kroger supermarket chain is shown in Cincinnati, Ohio, the United States, June 28, 2018. REUTERS / Lisa Baertlein / File Photo

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Kroger, one of the largest private employers in the United States, had about 465,000 full-time and part-time workers as of Jan. 31, according to a regulatory filing.

Concerns over the new Omicron variant could lead to an increase in crowds at Kroger stores in the coming weeks as consumers look to stock up on essential goods and household items, analysts said. Kroger encourages buyers “to buy only what they need,” the company said earlier this month. Read more

The push to get more staff vaccinated comes as US President Joe Biden faces setbacks in implementing his vaccine or testing mandate for private companies. Read more

Employees who are not vaccinated can potentially cost the employer more in health insurance costs, Symons said.

“So if I’m an employer who is self-insured and pays my health insurance claims, and I have employees who are not vaccinated and have the potential, not just to contract COVID themselves- 19, but also potentially affect others. I want them to pay more to try to offset some of those costs. “

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Reporting by Ananya Mariam Rajesh and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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