- Pay boost goes above what company had previously announced
- Retailer will spend $1.5 billion this year on higher wages
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest private employer in the U.S., is raising the wages of more than 1.1 million employees next month as it works to retain employees and improve the quality of its stores.
Under the plan, which is broader than was previously announced, hourly employees on Feb. 20 will get either a raise to at least $10 an hour or at least a 2 percent pay boost, the company said Wednesday in a statement. The new minimum wage for top-level hourly employees will increase to $15 an hour from $13, while the base salary for assistant managers will also rise.
Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon, facing criticism from labor activists, has been raising wages since last year. The company said in October that salary increases would cost $1.5 billion and contribute to a drop in profits of between 6 percent and 12 percent in the fiscal year ending January 2017. Wal-Mart spent $1 billion on raises last year.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company had announced a move to lift its base pay this year to $10, which would have affected about 500,000 workers. But that plan angered many long-time employees, who said it was unfair to senior workers who would receive no increase and would be making the same or close to what newer, less-experienced colleagues earned.
The company also said Wednesday it is giving all full-time hourly associates short-term disability pay at no cost and changing the way employees accrue time off so they don’t have to wait a year before they can use personal days. In addition to the 1.1. million Wal-Mart workers who will get raises, 100,000 Sam’s Club workers will also see an increase.
Labor activists weren’t placated by the announcement. Making Change at Wal-Mart, a group of current and former employees backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, raised concern that Wal-Mart may cut hours or other benefits to compensate for the higher pay. They said Wednesday in a statement that they’ve already seen the company reduce hours following the wage increase last year.
“It’s easier to find a unicorn than a Wal-Mart worker who has received a meaningful raise, or hasn’t had their hours cut,” the group said.