‘Hero bonus:’ Kroger gives temporary raise to hourly employees due to coronavirus

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Kroger gave temporary raises to its hourly grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center employees, the company announced Tuesday night.

The raise was $2 an hour to each employee’s current rate of pay for hours worked March 29 through April 18, according to a news release. The extra pay was in addition to the appreciation bonus that Kroger had previously announced for its employees. Full-time employees get $300 and part-time employees get $150 on April 3.

Kroger called the temporary raise a “hero bonus.” Employees have certainly seen a lot more customers come through the doors in the last month. Sales at Kroger supermarkets increased about 30% in March, Kroger announced Wednesday.

“Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the front lines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

In addition to the pay raise, employees received more health benefits, according to the announcement. That included additional emergency paid leave for employees who have to self-isolate or quarantine, access to mental health services and a $5 million fund for employees in need of help, including those who can’t find childcare and those who are at higher risk for coronavirus.

Other added benefits included an “associate hotline” to give quick answers to questions about benefits and “ExpressPay,” which gave employees faster access to their pay.

Kroger also announced changes to its cleaning and sanitation routine in stores while expanding pickup and delivery services. Cleaning in stores is happening more frequently. Protective shields have been installed between cashiers and customers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said it worked closely with Kroger to get the bonuses and other benefits affecting more than 460,000 employees across America.

“Today’s increase in pay and benefits is a good first step in our ongoing conversations with Kroger to keep customers and workers safe in stores during this crisis,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with Kroger to strengthen support and protections for these essential workers on the front lines of this outbreak as they continue to serve families across the country.”


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