Kroger and Food 4 Less increasing pay for hourly employees after hiring 30,000 new workers

Coronavirus
A sneeze guard is seen at a checkout lane at Kroger in this photo provided by the company.

A sneeze guard is seen at a checkout lane at Kroger in a photo provided by the company.

National grocery chains Kroger and Food 4 Less will pay hourly workers $2 more per hour from March 29 until April 18 as an unprecedented number of customers surge markets amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced in a news release Tuesday.

Kroger, which owns Food 4 Less, will increase the rate of pay for associates in departments including frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center.

The “Hero Bonus” will be disbursed weekly to ensure that workers have access to additional cash, the company said.

The pay increase comes after Kroger and Food 4 Less announced a one-time bonus to frontline workers on March 21 — a payment expected to go out on Friday.

“Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the frontlines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” Kroger’s chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said.

The company has hired 30,600 new employees over the past two weeks, according to McMullen.

“The Hero Bonus is just one more way we continue to convey our thanks and gratitude not only to our existing associates but also to the more than 30,000 new hires who have joined in the past two weeks and those who will soon join the Kroger Family of Companies,” he said.

Amazon is another company that raised hourly wages by $2 an hour until the end of April, as it struggles to meet consumer demands.

Many retailers are limiting store hours and offering additional paid sick time to employees amidst the global crisis. Employers within the city of Los Angeles that have more than 500 employees will be required to pay their employees 80 hours of sick leave to provide financial assistance to workers who have been affected by business closures during the pandemic.

The Kroger Family of Companies said it has taken preventative steps to ensure employees and customers are in a safe environment by enhancing daily sanitation practices, working to procure masks and gloves for associates, installing plexiglass partitions at checkout lanes, adding floor decals to promote physical distancing and adjusting store hours to allow time to clean and replenish.

To ensure that most hourly associates can access their pay faster, the company added the ExpressPay option and is offering a hotline to answer benefit questions quickly, according to the press release.

The company also says it is donating food and funds to local food banks and hunger-relief efforts.

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