Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Walmart has given its front-line workers a cash boost.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer announced today that it has paid nearly $180 million in cash bonuses to hourly workers, with more to come in May. The $180 million figure comes in addition to cash payments, of $300 and $150, respectively, Walmart made to full- and part-time hourly staff members earlier this month. In total, that adds up to over $365 million in bonuses paid out to associates.
“We’ve seen firsthand our associates’ unwavering focus to take care of customers and members while providing a vital service to communities during this time,” said Walmart chief people officer Donna Morris. “We appreciate everything our associates are doing to serve our customers and communities. They’re truly making a difference.”
Walmart and other big-box chains have seen a spike in demand for certain goods as shoppers stock up on household essentials, leading to a surge in hiring at a time when other retailers are shedding jobs. The company announced today that it has hired 200,000 additional employees across Walmart and Sam’s Club stores and distribution centers since March 19.
Among its efforts to keep its workforce and customers from contracting the coronavirus, Walmart said it has reduced store hours to allow for more cleaning and restocking; installed social distance markers and sneeze guards in stores; is checking employee temperatures; and making gloves and masks available to its associates. It also announced in early April that it would reduce store capacity to about 20% to allow for social distancing.
Despite these measures, Walmart has received some backlash for what some have referred to as inadequate COVID-19-related precautions. Earlier this month, four United States senators — Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown and Richard Blumenthal — penned a letter urging Walmart to improve safety for its front-line workers following reports that several employees have died of the coronavirus. Further, a wrongful death suit — alleging that Walmart failed to implement proper health and safety standards to protect its workforce — has been filed in Illinois by the family of a Walmart store worker who died after contracting COVID-19.