Walmart raises starting wages

Walmart plans to start paying its one million United States workers at least $11 an hour and give them a one-off cash bonus.

The world's largest retailer said the moves, which also include expanded parental leave benefits, will affect more than a million hourly workers in the U.S. Employees previously started at $9 an hour, with a bump up to $10 after completing a training program.

According to The New York Times, the company will "expand its maternity and parental leave policies to give full-time hourly employees 10 weeks of maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave".

The pay hike at Walmart follows similar actions at rival Target Corp. "Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S". The one-time bonus of up to $1,000 is based on seniority and will amount to an additional $400 million.

The company, which is the nation's largest private-sector employer, said it's also expanding its parental and maternity leave policy.

This increase in wages to associates will take effect in February and will be approximately $300 million incremental to what was already included in next fiscal year's plan.

This is the third USA -wide minimum wage increase at the company since 2015 as it works to improve its 4,700 US stores while investing heavily to compete with Amazon.com Inc. online. The average for hourly earnings rose 2.5 percent in December from a year earlier.

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In assessing potential additional investments made possible by the new tax reform law, Walmart will consider the needs and expectations of associates, customers and shareholders while working within its financial framework of strong, efficient growth; consistent operating discipline; and strategic capital allocation.

The bonuses will be determined on an employee's length of service at the company, Wal-Mart said, and those workers with more than 20 years of experience will qualify to receive $1,000.

Currently, Wal-Mart's starting wage is $9 US until workers complete a training program.

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

The wage increase comes as Walmart is on a roll.

An expanded parental and maternity leave policy, providing full-time hourly associates in the USA with 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Parents who adopt kids will get the same benefit, along with $5,000 to help cover the costs. That irks some economists, who say the federal level has failed to keep up with inflation and productivity.

Target announced it was raising its minimum wage to $11 last September and pledged to establish a $15 minimum wage by 2020.

  • Darren Santiago