In a news release Thursday morning, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon characterized the wage increases and other announced benefits as “building on investments we’ve been making in associates, in their wages and skills development.”
“It’s our people who make the difference and we appreciate how they work hard to make every day easier for busy families,” he said.
The announcement came on the same day that dozens of Sam’s Club locations announced they were closing for good and just days after company officials said they planned to expand Walmart’s “Mobile Express Scan & Go” app to 100 more locations. The app allows users to pay for their Walmart purchases in-store from their phones without the need to go through a checkout line manned by a cashier. The expansion has led to speculation that Walmart, the country’s largest employer, might replace some of its workforce with technology.
“(The app) means no waiting in line at the register, but presumably also means that cashiers will lose their jobs,” the Arkansas Times reported.
It was not immediately clear how many jobs would be affected.
Here are six things to know about the planned changes:
1. The starting wage rate for all hourly associates in America will rise to $11, $3.75 over the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and $2 over Walmart’s previous starting wage of $9. The wage change will apply to all hourly associates in the U.S. who work in Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs locations, eCommerce, logistics and Home Office, according to company officials.
2. The pay bump will take effect starting during the Feb. 17 pay cycle. Walmart officials said its employees will determine which associates qualify for the cash bonuses before February, “and payments will be paid as quickly as practical thereafter.”
3. Some associates will also be eligible for cash bonuses of up to $1,000, depending on how long they’ve been with Walmart. Officials said the $1,000 bonus would go to those with 20 or more years of Walmart employment.
4. The company plans to expand on its maternity and parental leave policy. Full-time hourly associates will be eligible for 10 weeks of paid maternity leave. Both hourly and salaried employees will also get six weeks of paid parental leave.
5. Walmart will create a benefit to help associates with adoption expenses. The company will provide full-time hourly and salaried associates who are adopting children with $5,000 per child to help cover expenses like adoption agency fees, legal costs and translation fees.
6. McMillon credited the recently approved tax reform bill for the changes. Company officials said they are still reviewing their options for additional investments.
“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,” McMillon said Thursday. “Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.”