Kroger is tightening the reins on the unvaccinated

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Kroger, among the biggest private employers in the United States, has about 465,000 full and part time workers. Of course, not comparable to Walmart with a total of approximately 1,8 million workers in US and 2,3 million workers world-wide.
By Reidar Molthe

17 December 2021 13:24

Kroger is tightening the reins on the unvaccinated

Maybe the American grocery chain Kroger should be a role model for other retail chains in the world? Maybe for many authorities too? It is not a human right not to be vaccinated, but a duty to take the immunisation, Kroger has decided.

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

Companies have tried different means to get their employees vaccinated, mainly educational campaigns and incentive programs, but they did not give desired results. Hence Kroger will try incentives that hits employees’ wallets if they insist not to give in and agree to vaccination.

The push to get more employees vaccinated comes as U.S. President Joe Biden faces setbacks in implementing his vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses.

Henceforth employees that are unvaccinated can potentially cost the employer more in health insurance costs. Therefor companies now have more motivation for drastic actions. Incentives that hit the pay roll, both negative and positive can hopefully increase vaccination levels, Kroger hopes - together with most US citizens.

Good results in Kroger

Kroger raised full-year sales and profit forecasts after its results topped estimates last week. A sustained boom in at-home cooking lifts demand for the retailer's groceries, sending its shares up 12%! That is much for listed food retailers.

“We believe the food at home change is structural and not temporary, with most people consuming meals at home and grocery stores continuing to capture the majority share of stomach,” Kroger Chief Executive Officer Rodney McMullen said in an analyst call.

If there are more restrictions at restaurants or service outlets, it would result in more consumers eating at home, and Kroger, being the largest conventional food retailer in the U.S., is well positioned to receive help from that.

A Kroger spokesperson told Reuters the company was closely monitoring the situation around the Omicron variant and was encouraging shoppers to only buy what they need.

Kroger's sales rose 7.2% to $31.86 billion in the third quarter.

Sources: Kroger Co, Reuters a.o.

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