Bonuses, Raises Await Wal-Mart Workers

Bonuses, Raises Await Wal-Mart Workers

Walmart is boosting its starting salary for USA workers to $US11 ($A15) an hour, giving a one-time $US1,000 cash bonus to eligible employees and expanding its maternity and parental leave benefits.

An increase in Walmart's starting wage rate to $11 an hour, effective in the February 17, 2018, pay cycle.

First, Walmart employees are eligible for the $1,000 bonus only if they've worked at the company for 20 years. Critics of tax reform have said companies are dishing out bonuses for the sake of good publicity and to curry favor with the White House.

Other policy changes Walmart announced Thursday - particularly an expanded parental and maternity leave policy - could further help the retailer attract and retain better workers.

Because of the tax reform law, Walmart says it's also creating a new benefit to assist associates with adoption expenses.

The pay increase and bonus will benefit more than 1 million USA hourly workers, it said, but the pay increase remains far below the $15 an hour unions and pressure groups say is needed to make up for decades of low growth in retail wages. 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 then be paid as quickly as practical.

"Retailers have traditionally paid one of the highest effective corporate tax rates", Sandy Kennedy, the president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said last month.

CEO Doug McMillon said in prepared statement that recently enacted tax legislation "gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S". Most Walmart employees, of course, haven't worked there that long. Last quarter, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company posted its strongest US sales gain in more than eight years. Salaried associates will also get six weeks of paid parental leave. The payscale for hourly workers will be from $11 to $24.70 per hour, the company said. Previously, the company didn't offer any paid leave for them.

Twelve states already have minimum wages of at least $10, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The company raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2015.

The wage increase comes as Walmart is on a roll.

Lately, much of the talk about Walmart's showdown with Amazon.com has centered on the old-school retailer building stronger e-commerce muscles.

The hike will also increase the average hourly pay at Wal-Mart for full-time employees to $14.50 from a current $13.85.

Plus, Walmart knows from experience what raising wages can do to help boost business.

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