American retailer Walmart has raised its starting hourly wage from $10 to $11 and vowed to deliver bonuses of up to $1,000 to employees in wake of the US tax overhaul.
The move comes into effect next month, costing $300m on top of already planned annual wage increases. The one-time bonuses aim to reward those who will not benefit from the starting wage bump, ranging from $200 to $1000. They are based on company seniority and how long workers have been with the organisation, amounting to an additional $400m.
Walmart is also expanding its maternity and parental leave policies for full-time workers, adding an adoption benefit of $5,000 to help cover costs.
The world’s largest retailer is no stranger to featuring in news headlines and is currently fighting to improve its bad reputation in the US over its treatment of employees.
In September last year, rival company Target announced it was boosting its minimum hourly wage to $11 an hour with the aim of increasing this to $15 by the end of 2020.
It has been three years since Walmart last announced it was increasing its wages. In 2015, the hourly pay rose to $9, costing America’s largest private employer $1bn, and then a year later to $10 for employees who completed a 90-day training course. This increase was slammed by long-serving workers as unfair to them.
Many states have endorsed minimum wage laws since then, and a portion of Walmart’s 4700 stores already pay $11 an hour.
However, according to the US Census Bureau, many workers will still struggle despite the wage boost if they are the sole breadwinner. For a typical 40-hour week, an hourly rate of $11 converts to some $22,000 a year, under the federal poverty level of $24,600 for a family of four.
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