The Kroger Company is increasing its efforts to reward employees working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nation’s largest supermarket retailer also announced that all hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates will see their standard base rate of pay raised $2. The premium, which Kroger called a “hero bonus,” will be applied to hours worked March 29 through April 18 and be disbursed weekly to ensure employees have access to additional cash. It is on top of Kroger’s previous commitment to provide a one-time bonus to frontline employees.
In addition, beginning next week, Kroger is adding ExpressPay – a new benefit that allows most hourly associates to access some of their pay faster, putting money in their pockets sooner than usual, the company said.
“Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the frontlines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “The Hero Bonus is just one more way we continue to convey our thanks and gratitude not only to our existing associates but also to the more than 30,000 new hires who have joined in the past two weeks. During this unprecedented time, Kroger’s most urgent priority is to provide a safe environment for associates and customers, with open stores and an efficiently operating supply chain.”
Kroger has taken a number of measures to protect associates and customers in recent weeks, including;
• Enhancing daily sanitation practices, including cleaning commonly used areas more often like cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, food service counters and shelves;
• Permitting and working hard to procure protective masks and gloves for associates;
• Installing plexiglass partitions at check lanes, pharmacy and Starbucks registers across the enterprise;
• Adding floor decals to promote physical distancing at check lanes and other counters;
• Adjusting store operating hours to allow more time for our associates to rest, clean and replenish inventory; and
• Continuing to expand online pickup and delivery, and contactless payment solutions like Kroger Pay.
The supermarket company has also rolled out a number of resources to support employees, including associates who are affected by COVID-19 – whether experiencing symptoms and self-isolating, diagnosed or placed in quarantine – can recover with the support of emergency paid leave.
Other measures include:
• Making $5 million available for those facing hardship, including lack of access to childcare and for those considered higher-risk, due to COVID-19 through the Kroger Family of Companies Helping Hands fund.
• Offering an associate hotline to answer benefit questions quickly.
• Providing access to mental health services and other benefits to support associates’ mental and physical well-being during this stressful time.
• Supporting associates by onboarding more than 30,600 new hires in the last two weeks, including workers from the hardest-hit sectors like restaurants, hotels and food-service distributors.