Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, is boosting its starting salary for U.S. workers to $11 an hour, handing out one-time cash bonuses to those who don’t benefit from the pay hike and expanding its maternity and parental leave benefits. The retailer said Thursday that changes to its compensation and benefits policy will impact more than a million hourly workers in the U.S. The company employs 1.5 million people in the U.S.
“I’m also excited to tell you that we’re making an important change to benefits by expanding our paid leave policy to provide full-time hourly associates with 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave,” Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon wrote in a statement on Thursday. “This expanded parental leave also applies to salaried associates and to parents who adopt. We will also contribute $5,000 to the cost of adoption.”President Donald Trump cheered the announcement with a tweet, saying, “Great news, as a result of our TAX CUTS & JOBS ACT!”
Dozens of other companies have announced worker bonuses following the passage of the Republican tax plan, such as AT&T and Comcast. Large employers also have been under pressure to boost benefits for workers because unemployment rates are at historic lows, allowing job seekers to be pickier.
Walmart says the wage increase benefits all hourly U.S. workers within its stores, including Sam’s Club, its website and logistics. The company had raised its starting wage to $9 an hour in 2015, and says workers could go up to $10 an hour after completing an entry-level training program. Rival Target Corp. had raised its minimum hourly wage to $11 in October, and said it would raise wages to $15 by the end of 2020.
Walmart has invested $2.7 billion in higher wages and training for workers to lower turnover and make the shopping experience more appealing. It has done well and strengthened its hand in online retail as many other retailers have struggled.
In offering the bonuses, Walmart joins companies including American Airlines, AT&T and Bank of America that have announced $1,000 worker payouts following the passage of the Republican tax plan that slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The companies say the bonuses they’ve announced are a way to share some of their bounty with their workers, though in some cases it’s a very small percentage of their gains.
One-time payouts are far less valuable to employees than permanent pay raises. About a dozen banks have said they will raise their minimum wages. A handful of mostly small companies have announced pay increases for most of their workforces. And a few have said they will raise their contributions to their employees’ retirement plans.
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