Walmart introduces paid time-off for sick days and other absences

Janna Herron

Starting this weekend, Walmart employees can earn up to 48 hours of paid time-off they can use when they're sick or otherwise need to miss work.

The retail giant will also pay employees an additional 25 percent on their quarterly bonuses if they have spotless attendance. Absences covered by the paid time-off don’t affect an employee’s attendance record.

“Our associates told us they wanted to be rewarded for their dedication, and we couldn’t agree more,” said Drew Holler, vice president of associate experience for Walmart U.S., in a press statement.

The new policy went into effect on Saturday at all Walmart stores and supply chain locations in the U.S.

The moves follow several efforts by Walmart to improve worker pay and benefits.

Just over a year ago, the retailer raised its starting wage for hourly workers to $11 and provided a one-time cash bonus up to $1,000. It also expanded its maternity and parental leave benefits and created a new adoption expense benefit.

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In November, Walmart released a new scheduling system that allowed workers to swap shifts with co-workers to pick up extra hours, manage unexpected interruptions and save paid time off.

Wage competition among retailers

Many retailers have been boosting their starting wages to try to attract and retain workers, among other efforts.

In 2017, Target began a multi-year effort to get its beginning wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Currently, the retailer is starting new employees at $12 an hour. Costco in June increased its minimum wage to $14 per hour from $13.

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Amazon lifted its own starting wage to $15 an hour in November, a move that affects 250,000 of its employees – full-time, part-time and temporary workers - and more than 100,000 seasonal employees.

The online retailer also joined lobbying efforts to convince the U.S. government to increase the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t budged from $7.25 an hour since 2009.

Local government actions

States also have been at the forefront of raising wages. This year, 22 states and the District of Columbia boosted or will boost their minimum wages, helping about 17 million workers, according to a National Employment Law Project report.

Thirty-eight cities and counties – excluding Washington, D.C., – also raised or are scheduled to raise their minimum wages this year.

The increases are either because of policies designed to help lower-income workers or regularly scheduled cost-of-living adjustments.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Walmart introduces paid time-off for sick days and other absences