Bonuses, Raises Await Wal-Mart Workers

Walmart giving employees $1000 bonuses, raising minimum wage

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is boosting its starting hourly wage to $11 and delivering bonuses to employees, capitalizing on the US tax overhaul to stay competitive in a tightening labor market.

Wal-Mart said the changes will benefit the retailer's more than one million hourly employees across the country and will take place in February.

"We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders", said Doug McMillon, Walmart chief executive.

Investors didn't have a strong reaction to Wal-Mart's pay hike.

He added that "tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S".

First, Walmart employees are eligible for the $1,000 bonus only if they've worked at the company for 20 years. Salaried employees, who already had 10 weeks paid maternity leave, will receive more paid parental leave.

Walmart also said it would offer financial help to full-time hourly and salaried employees who are seeking to adopt children.

The nation's unemployment rate has sat at 4.1 percent for three months now, the lowest level since 2000.

"The wage increases will make a big difference to Walmart's lowest-paid associates, but do not yet match Target's commitment to raise pay to $15 an hour", said the Organization United for Respect at Walmart. Average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory workers were up 2.3 percent in December from a year earlier, according to Labor Department figures. A discrete one-time charge will be taken in the fourth quarter of the current year to account for the bonus; qualification will be determined before the end of the month and payments will be paid as quickly as practical thereafter.

Walmart raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2015 and the following year offered a $1 rise to those who completed an internal training scheme.

Currently, Wal-Mart's starting wage is $9 USA until workers complete a training program. Last quarter, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company posted its strongest USA sales gain in more than eight years.

The one-time bonuses will range from $200 to $1,000, depending on how long workers have been with Wal-Mart.

While companies and states have increased salaries in recent years, the $7.25 federal minimum wage has not budged since 2009.

Walmart is also increasing its paid leave policy for new fathers and non-birthing mothers to six weeks at full pay for full-time hourly workers.

The wage increase comes as Walmart is on a roll.


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