A glitch in Kroger's new payroll system means some employees haven't been fully paid since Labor Day

“I feel like management should forfeit their pay for a few weeks and see how they can pay bills and buy groceries"

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published November 11, 2022 12:00PM (EST)

Kroger sign is seen on a store in Streator, Illinois, United States, on October 15, 2022. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty Images)
Kroger sign is seen on a store in Streator, Illinois, United States, on October 15, 2022. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Mark Kilbrade assumed the first incomplete paycheck he received from Kroger was a mistake.

Kilbrade had been working at one of the supermarket chain's Centreville, Ohio, locations for about a year when he put in a vacation request. Though Kilbrade's request was approved by management, paid time off wasn't reflected in his check after he returned from vacation. In fact, it wouldn't be reflected for another four weeks, after he involved a union representative.

"I decided once I got my pay to leave the company, and I did without a proper notice," Kilbrade wrote in an email to Salon Food. "You don't mess with employee's pay. Fortunately being married, my spouse had income, so it did not hurt much. But if it were just myself, there is no way I could have made ends meet."

This isn't an isolated incident. Since Labor Day, reports of late and partial paychecks have dominated Kroger employee Facebook pages and Reddit forums. Many employees — both exempt and non-exempt — have written posts describing how they've had to tap into their savings in order to cover the discrepancies between their promised pay and recent paychecks.

"My spouse has not been paid (salaried) and no one seems to be doing anything about it," one Reddit user wrote in a since-deleted comment originally posted on Nov. 3. "They will not give an advance…Is this happening to anyone else? We are blowing through our savings."

The post continued: "We've got a child who must continue medical treatments, a soldier waiting for him to send him a ticket home for the holidays, and other family counting on us."

According to employees, the recent spate of payment-related issues can be traced back to a common issue: a newly-adopted, but glitchy payroll system that hasn't yet been fixed. With little communication from corporate leadership, many employees — according to interviews conducted by Salon Food and a survey of social media posts — are torn between attempting to wait out their paychecks and quitting to find a new source of income right before the holidays.

The issues appear to have originated around Labor Day, according to an email shared with Salon Food by a Kroger employee in Michigan.

"Good morning all, at this point I am sure you are aware that many associates did not receive Labor Day holiday pay," the email, which was sent from corporate leadership to area managers, said. "This issue has affected approximately 5,000+ associates within the MI division."

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Per the email, managers were aware of the issue, which was blamed on a software glitch. They said the payments would be applied to the following week's paycheck.

A current Kroger recruiter, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity over fear of losing her job, told Salon Food during a Nov. 7 video call that her store had shifted over to the MyTime and MyInfo systems earlier this fall. As she described it, the "apps aren't talking to each other."

MyTime is a payroll system that allows users to clock in and out using an application on their phones. That information is supposed to be fed to MyInfo — which is where an employee's hourly pay rate and banking information, including their direct deposit details and home address, are stored. After management approval, MyInfo is supposed to generate a paycheck, which would be issued in the manner requested by the employee, typically a direct deposit or a paper check.

According to the recruiter, the system isn't working as intended. At the same time, she acknowledged that some of the issues stem from user error. A few employees with whom she spoke found it difficult to adjust to the new time-keeping system. Nevertheless, there are inexplicable technical glitches, among them users' direct deposit information disappearing from the system.

The recruiter estimated this issue had impacted at least a dozen workers from her store, including one particularly egregious example in which a bakery employee went three weeks without pay.

"When [the bakery employee] had her information flipped from Express HR to MyInfo, her direct deposit information was incorrect," she said. "She had one account in one space, one account in a different space, so it didn't populate correctly."

"The manager told her, 'I submitted your payroll. Your payroll has been submitted. I don't know why you're not getting paid.'"

When the bakery employee finally flagged the issue to management, she was allegedly told that store leadership wasn't sure when the situation would be rectified.

"The manager told her, 'I submitted your payroll. Your payroll has been submitted. I don't know why you're not getting paid,'" the recruiter said.

On a national level, it's unclear exactly how many employees may have been impacted by these technical issues. Kroger hasn't returned Salon Food's requests for comment on this topic; multiple attempts were made to reach the supermarket chain.

Kroger has nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states operating under 28 different brands, including Mariano's and Ralph's. Salon Food spoke to almost a dozen Kroger employees — both on and off the record — who worked at locations in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Each worker described how at least several employees from their respective stores had allegedly experienced payroll problems related to the implementation of MyTime and MyInfo.

On a more anecdotal level, a quick search of the term "paycheck" in r/Kroger, the subreddit for the Kroger family of companies, revealed reports of associates across the country being impacted by this issue. Over the last month, dozens of users have added posts with titles including: "3 paychecks with wrong work hours," "Alpharetta GA Kroger Routinely Shorting Paycheck" and "Any news about the missing paychecks from last week?"

In a post titled "No Paychecks for 971," an individual who identifies as a Kroger employee wrote: "No one has gotten paid at 971 even the people like me who always get paid by 4pm on Wednesdays."

"Our payroll person said they sent it in like usual and it's Krogers [sic] fault," they continued. "Do any other stores in the Columbus area have this problem?"

This extended payroll glitch comes at a time when the union that represents the majority of Kroger employees is spread unusually thin amid controversy surrounding a proposed mega-merger between Kroger and Albertsons, two of the nation's largest supermarket chains. Some critics worry a merger would mean reduced competition, higher food prices and the closure of underperforming locations, which has the potential to further impact marginalized communities. Leadership at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents Kroger employees, says they're attempting to combat these recent instances of incomplete and late pay.

UFCW Local 400, which oversees grocery workers in the mid-Atlantic region, recently set up a public-facing web page dedicated to collecting reports of MyTime issues.

"Since Kroger first launched MyTime, many associates have reported issues with the new system," it reads. "While we've tried to work with the company to resolve these issues, a majority of the issues are still unresolved or keep occurring with other associates."

According to the web page, currently known MyTime issues include: ongoing unpaid night premium for night crew; backups not getting paid for relief; holidays not being paid; personal holidays and vacations not being paid; unable to schedule personal holidays; night premium not being paid for vacations of night crew; and docking for pay on break.

In Michigan, UFCW Local 876 filed a class action grievance on Oct. 19 "for mistakes due to MyTime on the following: holiday pay, relief pay, personal days [and] untimely paychecks." (As of publication, requests to both unions regarding the exact number of affected employees went unanswered.)

Mike, a former Virginia-based employee who asked to use only his first name for privacy, finally had enough after his first paycheck from the supermarket was weeks late. Mike was hired on Oct. 10 into his store's leadership development program, meaning that he was considered management and ineligible for union membership.

"I worked 43 hours my first week, doing mandatory computer training," he wrote via email. "I was unable to set up a direct deposit due to issues with the MyInfo system until the following Monday, so I knew to expect a paper check."

"I feel like management should forfeit their pay for a few weeks and see how they can pay bills and buy groceries."

The check didn't come. When Mike flagged the issue, he was told "this was a 'known issue' and that [his] name was 'on a spreadsheet' now for people missing checks."

The next week, the same thing happened again. After three weeks with the company, Mike finally quit — but not before filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor and finally collecting his three paychecks.

"I just hope that exposure to this 'known' issue can resolve issues that impact others who live paycheck to paycheck," he wrote. "I feel that Kroger should add any late/delinquent fees to the checks of anyone who incurred such debts. I was fortunate to have money set aside to aid with the job transition, but I know many others do not have that luxury."

Mark Kilbrade in Ohio feels similarly after his departure from the company.

"I feel like management should forfeit their pay for a few weeks and see how they can pay bills and buy groceries," he said. "How a company so big could have this problem without even apologizing is disgraceful. Not only that, they purchased another big company during this screwed-up mess. I feel Kroger should be boycotted by all and let them suffer like they made their employees suffer."

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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