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BIG-BOX BOOST: Wal-Mart increases its starting wage to $11 an hour and adds new benefits.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
BIG-BOX BOOST: Wal-Mart increases its starting wage to $11 an hour and adds new benefits.

Wal-Mart invests tax savings into family leave

Added leave time comes alongside bonuses and a starting pay increase

Posted online

Following federal tax reform, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is bestowing its full-time associates with some extra family time – including up to $10,000 per employee to adopt children.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company announced Jan. 11 it added parental leave and expanded maternity leave for its employees throughout the United States. The paid time off and adoption assistances come with a bundle of added benefits, driven by a drop in the federal government’s corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Federal tax reform passed in late December, and Wal-Mart now sits among several area employers that have chosen to invest the tax savings into the workforces – including Great Southern Bancorp (Nasdaq: GSBC) and Commerce Bancshares (Nasdaq: CBSH).

“We are in the early stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers, associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders,” Wal-Mart President and CEO Doug McMillon said in a news release.

The company previously allowed six to eight weeks of maternal leave at partial pay, however, full-time hourly associates now get 10 weeks of maternal leave at 100 percent of their pay, company spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said. The 10 weeks matches that of full-time salaried employees.

Hatfield said parental leave is a new benefit. Full-time hourly and salaried associates now get six weeks of parental leave at 100 percent of their pay.

“Fathers, nonbirthing mothers, those participating in foster care and adoption will be able to take advantage of the expanded parental leave option,” she said.

Wal-Mart now offers up to $5,000 for full-time hourly and salaried employees to reimburse the cost of adopting a child, such as agency fees and legal or court costs.

“Associates could use this credit twice – so for the adoption of two children,” Hatfield said, noting the total adoption payout for an employee equals $10,000. “You apply for the credit, and you receive a check.”

Area Wal-Mart managers contacted by Springfield Business Journal declined to comment on the added benefits.

Hatfield said other benefits stemming from federal tax reform included an increase in Wal-Mart’s starting wage to $11 from $10 and one-time bonuses for full- and part-time employees. Bonuses are based on length of employment, with associates of at least 20 years qualifying for a cap bonus of $1,000, according to the news release.

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