Walmart to Increase Wages, Give Bonuses in Response to Tax Reform

More than 1 million Walmart workers will benefit from bonuses and pay raises

Walmart on Thursday announced plans to give some employees a one-time bonus and boost its minimum hourly wage to $11-an indication that the lowest earners in the country are finally starting to see some benefit from the nearly decade-long economic recovery.

One analyst said he's considering the positive impact on employee morale and called the benefits and wage upgrades that started a few years ago under Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran and McMillon "a smart move".

Walmart will spend hundreds of millions - if not billions - of dollars on wage increases, bonuses, and expanded benefits for parents this year thanks to tax reform.

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

The company also said on Thursday that it was expanding its maternity- and parental-leave policies to give full-time hourly employees 10 weeks of maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave.

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The changes will take effect starting February and affect Walmart's USA workers, and its Sam's Club, supply chain, e-commerce and Home Office hourly associates.

Walmart in 2017 reported pre-tax profits of about $20.5 billion and paid an effective tax rate of around 30%.

Some are beginning to speculate Walmart will invest in dropping prices even lower across its stores, something that's always been key to the big-box retailer's brand.

Walmart, which reported annual revenue of almost $486 billion in the previous fiscal year, said the wage increases will cost it an additional $300 million in the next fiscal year. The one-time bonus payment increases planned spending by an additional $400 million. "Walmart is the latest company to make such an announcement, directly [as a] result of the tax cuts".

The current minimum wage at Walmart is $9 an hour, which was introduced in 2015. Almost 85,000 employees with 20 years' seniority will quality for a $1,000 cash bonus, and another 200,000 workers will get a $750 bonus.

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While Walmart credits the wage increase and parental leave reform to "opportunities" created by the recent tax reform law, the reality may be a bit more complicated.

Walmart has invested $2.7 billion in higher wages and training for workers to lower turnover and make the shopping experience more appealing.

A series of studies have provided fodder for both sides of the debate on raising the federal minimum wage.

Workers in Washington D.C. and the states of California, Washington and MA, already earn at least $11 an hour.

Employees restock shelves of school supplies at a Walmart location in Burbank, California, on August 8, 2017. "If Target can raise wages to $15, Walmart most certainly can afford $15 an hour and full-time hours", Carolyn Davis, a 10-year worker from North Carolina, was quoted saying in a note from the group.

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The company says the changes will affect more than 1 million of its USA employees.

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