Kroger workers don't need to repay coronavirus bonuses, grocer blames 'payroll error'

Grocery company called it 'an unfortunate payroll error'

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Kroger said workers do not need to pay back coronavirus bonuses after facing backlash from employees and customers on social media.

Twitter users shared photos of letters from Kroger stating employees were "overpaid" and listing three different "repayment" options for workers to give their bonuses back to the grocery company, a mistake Kroger attributed to a "payroll error."

"This was an unfortunate payroll accounting error," a Kroger spokesperson said in a statement to FOX Business. "We've since instructed our payroll department to directly inform the small number of associates affected by the recent overpayments of COVID-19 Emergency Leave pay that we will not seek repayment.

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News of the error comes less than a week after the company came under fire for ending its $2-per-hour coronavirus "hero" bonus for essential workers and giving employees extra "thank-you" bonuses of $400 for full-time workers and $200 for part-time instead.

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) expressed outrage at the company's decision last week with the COVID-19 pandemic and many shelter-in-place orders ongoing.

An employee stocks salad mixes in the produce department of a Kroger supermarket in Peoria, Illinois. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"We are extremely disappointed by Kroger's decision to end Hero Pay," the UFCW wrote. "At the beginning of this crisis, Kroger first called these workers 'heroes' and now they have decided that they've stopped being heroes."

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Kroger has hired more than 100,000 workers since March.

The company disclosed last week that CEO Rodney McMullen received target direct total compensation of $14.3 million in 2019, up 3.6 percent from 2018.

The supermarket has been supplying workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), enhancing store sanitation, offering testing to employees with symptoms, providing more health care benefits and changing store hours since late March.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.