HOUSTON — Kroger is expanding its emergency leave policy and giving a one-time bonus to hourly employees as appreciation for all the hard work they have put into keeping stores operational during a coronavirus-driven surge in business.
The company said the bonus is for all hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing and customer service associates who were hired before March 1. Full-time associates can expect at $300 bonus and part-time associates will receive $150 bonus, both of which will be payable April 3.
“Our associates are working around the clock to keep our stores open for our customers,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger chairman and CEO. “I am incredibly grateful for all they are doing. The true heroes in this story are our associates, and we want to provide them with additional resources and support to help them continue their remarkable effort.”
Kroger has also decided to give standard pay for up to 14 days to employees who choose to self-quarantine or are showing possible coronavirus symptoms and have a note from a qualified medical professional. The originally emergency leave policy only covered those who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The company said it wants employees to feel supported and comfortable taking a leave if they’re showing symptoms and need to focus on their health.
“We also want to make it easier for associates to follow our guidance to stay home if they feel sick and to do our part to flatten the curve,” said Tim Mass, Kroger senior vice president and Chief People Officer.
Kroger Family of Companies Helping Hands fund is also available to provide financial assistance to associates who face hardship due to COVID-19, including lack of access to childcare and for those considered higher-risk.
Kroger isn't the only chain showing its employees appreciation.
H-E-B has offered a $2 per hour 'Texas Proud Pay' stipend as a thank you to its hourly store, manufacturing, warehouse and transportation partners through April 12.
The grocer said the additional pay is its way of recognizing "their hard work and thank them for their commitment as they help serve our customers and communities. Texans rely on H-E-B and we rely on our great partners."
Kroger, H-E-B, Walmart and other grocers throughout the nation have been making changes to workflow, increasing staff and other adjustments to operations in an effort to keep up with panic buying by shoppers amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and representatives from all the major grocery chains have been repeating this message to shoppers: only buy what you need.
These retailers confirmed there isn't a shortage of food or other items and their stores are prepared to take on the demand. There collective goal, at the moment, is to keep both customers and employees safe and to slow down the spread of the virus as the city continues to navigate the coronavirus crisis.
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