ANDERSON – Walmart, the state’s largest employer, announced Thursday a plan to boost starting salary, provide a one-time bonus to employees not affected by the increase and vastly expand its maternal and parental leave policy.
The retailer said the payouts are a way to pass on tax savings from the recently-enacted tax policy on to its more than 1 million employees across the country.
“Today, we are building on investments we’ve been making in associates, in their wages and skills development,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO. “It’s our people who make the difference and we appreciate how they work hard to make every day easier for busy families.”
Base hourly pay will increase to $11 from the current $9, starting in February. For employees making above minimum pay, Walmart is offering a one-time cash bonus of up to $1,000 based on the number of years an employee has been with the company.
Glen Hindman, who has worked with the company for 14 years and now works at the Anderson store, said he thinks the pay increase will make him work harder to help shoppers because he’s being better compensated.
“The increase is huge; it’s always good to be paid more for a job you are doing… I really think it will boost morale,” Hindman said.
The retailer will also be updating its maternity and family leave program for full -time hourly associates, offering 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried associates will also receive six weeks of paid parental leave, according to the company.
The company had previously raised its starting wage to $9 an hour in 2015, saying 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 pledged to raise wages to $15 by the end of 2020.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company also promised help with adoptions, offering full-time hourly and salaried workers $5,000 per child that can be used for expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal or court costs.
Several other companies have announced bonuses after the passage of the Republican tax plan, including 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 shop themselves around for better compensation.
Across the board, wages for hourly retail workers have risen less than 9 percent since 1990, compared with 18 percent for overall workers in the private sector.
In a statement, McMillon said the benefits are just the beginning for employees as Walmart looks at different ways to invest in associates, customers and shareholders.
“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. “Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.”
Some Sam’s Clubs to close
On the same day the company announced increases to employee benefits, Walmart released plans to close three Indiana Sam’s Club locations affecting more than 400 workers.
Two Indianapolis stores, 3015 W. 86th St. and 10859 E. Washington St., as well as the Goshen location at 4024 Elkhart Road, Suite 1, will close to the public Jan. 28, according to separate notices sent to the state.
After the public closure, all hourly employees will be terminated March 16 and management employees will be terminated April 13.
The closures are among 10 of the company’s lowest-performing stores closing across the country.