CHICAGO – Walmart changes its paid retirement policy for its employees, and will begin paying bonuses to employees who limit their absence.
The goal is to provide incentives to workers who appear every day while building in protection for people who have no choice but to miss work.
Currently, hourly staff may miss up to nine days every six months for unexpected absence. Walmart cuts it to five under the new policy, which will take effect this weekend. The policy on holiday days does not change.
In the five days every six months, workers will begin receiving up to six days a year with "protected PTO." These days can be used to cover illnesses and emergencies, such as a flat tire or taking care of sick children or family members.
The difference is that the protected PTO does not count towards the employee's attendance records. Even employees who take all six days may be eligible for the new attendance bonus. However, they will not receive the bonus if they plunge into the pool of another five every six months each year.
For example, a Walmart sales association that makes it possible to make the company's $ 1
Doubling down on benefits
Walmart, the country's largest private employer, says that 300,000 part-time and full-time employees already have attendance qualifications for the new bonuses.
"We have core relationships that we will reward to go beyond," Drew Holler, vice president of affiliate experience for Walmart USA, told CNN Business.
Walmart doubles on the benefits of attracting and retaining its best talent. At the same time, the company believes that the new program will not add much to its costs.
Walmart is facing a strong pressure from investors to keep costs down. Last year, Walmart increased the minimum wage for all of its 1.1 million workers every hour.
"Walmart is trying to be creative. Workers are already on the rise, and this is not a huge cost," says Stephanie Luce, a professor of work studies at the City University of New York. "It's a way to make a positive gesture without "Breaking the bank."
Walmart believes that the bonuses will increase attendance. The reduction in holidays was designed to "take responsibility and increase the expectations of the small number of employees who have a attendance problem," said Holler.
Unplanned absence interferes with Walmart Because workers have to change routines and get extra slack, it can often lead to poor customer service on the sales floor, which frustrates buyers.
But Eddie Iny, campaign director for workers' legal group Organization United for Respect, worries about a potential risk with the new the grants: Workers showing up sick for the job.
Walmart has faced criticism and lawsuits to punish workers for medical and pregnancy-related absences. YEAR Walmart, a campaign run by United for Respect, had circulated a petition that just called the company to provide at least six days of paid PTO for unplanned diseases.
A Better Balance lawyer group filed a complaint action in New York last year alleging that Walmart's absenteeism policy discriminated against pregnant workers. Walmart has denied the allegations. The lawsuit is expected.
The company's new policy seems to be a major improvement, says Dina Bakst, co-founder of a better balance. In another statement on Friday, she said that the organization still had concerns, adding that Walmart "must ensure that no employee is punished for lawful absences," even though the person has spent all of his allotted time paid. Bakst said that a better balance would follow the changes closely.
Salary and Paid Leave
The new guidelines follow Walmart's recent efforts to improve salaries and benefits for employees.
Last year, in addition to raising the minimum wage to $ 11 an hour, Walmart extended paid maternity leave and paternity leave for full-time working hours.
Separately, Walmart achieved his planning system to give workers more consistent hours and allow them to switch shifts with colleagues.
These efforts have helped Walmart with sales to a five-year low, says Holler. The company has been struggling with high turnover earlier, which is expensive for Walmart because it has to pay to train new workers.
Unemployment in the US has fallen to its lowest level for decades. As the retail offering is above the national average, Walmart wants to attract top-ten employees to work for the company.
Meanwhile, Walmart faces pressure from rivals such as Target, which increased the minimum wage to $ 12 and hour last year and plans to move to $ 15 an hour by the end of 2020. In October, Amazon announced it would increase its minimum wage to $ 15 for all US employees.
"It is a tight labor market and they want to be able to compete for the best workers," says Laura Kennedy, detail analyst at Kantar Consulting.
Walmart, a frequent target for job activists, also seems to be trying to Get ahead of promising trends and increase their image.  Several cities and states are passing the minimum wage and mandate paid leave.In 2017, Oregon became the first state in the country to require employers to provide workers with their schedules at least one week in advance.  "They would rather have their own policies, rather than being legislated and telling what to do," Luce said.