Major U.S. grocery and drugstore chain Kroger (KR 0.36%) says it will pay $130 million more in bonuses to its workers, both part-time and full-time, in two parts. Like other bonuses and extra pay the company has dished out during the past several months, this bonus is to "recognize and thank our associates for their incredible work during this historic time" of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to CEO Rodney McMullen.
Saluting the additional risks taken by grocery workers in keeping America's food supply functional through the coronavirus outbreak, Kroger gave out its first round of bonuses in April. At that time, it paid part-time employees $150 each and full-time workers $300. This time, the payments are somewhat larger, at $200 for part-timers and $400 for full-timers. The one-time lump sum bonus will be split into two payments, handed out on May 30 and June 18.
The company says the bonus is meant to "bookend" its various "appreciation pay" initiatives. One of these, the "hero pay" bonus increasing worker pay by $2 per hour for most of the pandemic period, is drawing to a close. Kroger extended the extra pay several times as COVID-19 continued to spread.
Unions protested ending hero pay on May 17. While it's not entirely clear, Kroger's latest press release seems to indicate the bonus may now be paid for an additional week, referring to "a final payment by May 23."
The grocery chain is also continuing the paid leave provided to employees who catch the coronavirus. McMullen additionally remarked, "Our associates have been instrumental in feeding America while also helping to flatten the curve during the initial phases of the pandemic."