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America's Largest Grocery Chain Is Changing This COVID-19 Rule

Kroger isn't requiring all employees to get vaccinated, but it is making this move.

There are more than 2,700 Kroger stores across the U.S., and the grocery chain is considered to be America's largest. A COVID-19 rule that is being changed by the company may affect some of its nearly 500,000 employees.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, Kroger will no longer give unvaccinated employees an additional two-weeks paid emergency COVID-19 leave should they contract the disease. Impacted workers will still be able to use earned paid-time-off or request unpaid leave, according to the Cincinnati Inquirer.

"Vaccinated employees that fall ill from COVID-19 can get up to two weeks of paid leave without using their regular time-off benefits," wrote reporter Alexander Coolidge.

Kroger will also charge salaried employees who are unvaccinated and signed up for a company health plan $50 a month, which adds up to $600 a year. In contrast, the chain will keep doling out $100 bonuses to those who get the shots.

Related: Walmart, Kroger, and Other Grocery Stores Are Meeting With the White House to Address Shortages

While Kroger isn't requiring all employees to get vaccinated, the company told the Cincinnati Inquirer that it was modifying its policies in an effort to "encourage safe behaviors including vaccination."

"The administration of the vaccine to our associates has been an integral part of our efforts (to combat the pandemic) and continues to be a focus," Kroger spokeswoman Kristal Howard said of the changes. "We have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years, and in line with our values, the safety of our associates and customers has remained our top priority."

The rule change will extend to Kroger's other brands, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Mariano's, and Ralphs. More top grocery chains are also keeping certain COVID-19 safety rules in place. Walmart, for example, is continuing to shut down some of its locations for almost 48 hours in order to deep clean, sanitize, and restock.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda