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.
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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.