Unvaccinated Kroger employees to lose some benefits

One of the largest private employers in the United States, Kroger plans to cut some COVID-19 benefits for unvaccinated employees next year.

In an effort to push more workers to get the shot amid concerns over the Omicron variant, a spokesman for the supermarket chain said Tuesday the company will no longer provide paid COVID-19 leave for unvaccinated employees, and will apply a $50 monthly health insurance surcharge to salaried non-union workers.

Kroger had about 465,000 employees at the start of this year, according to a regulatory filing, which includes workers at Ralphs, Harris Teeter and Food 4 Less stores.

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

Analysts have said concerns over the new variant could cause a jump in crowds at Kroger stores in the coming weeks as consumers look to stock up on household essentials.