- Walmart is paying out bonuses to US hourly employees and hiring 150,000 workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Walmart will pay $US150 to part-time hourly employees and $US300 to full-time hourly employees.
- The company also said it’s working to open the first of its coronavirus testing sites within the next 72 hours.
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Walmart is paying a one-time cash bonus to its hourly workers in the US and hiring 150,000 employees amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company said late Thursday.
The company will pay $US300 to full-time employees and $US150 to part-time employees for a total payout of more than $US365 million. Hourly employees in stores, clubs, supply chain centres, and offices will qualify. The bonuses will pay out on April 2. In addition, Walmart plans to pay out a separate quarterly bonus to employees 30 days earlier than scheduled.
The bonuses are meant to provide workers with “some extra cash at a time when many Americans are probably worried about where their next paycheck is coming from,” Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, said in a call with media on Thursday.
“They’re doing Herculean work in our stores and serving customers in frankly a tense environment,” Bartlett said of Walmart’s store employees.
Walmart also announced Thursday that it will hire 150,000 new employees through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution centres, and fulfillment centres. The roles will initially be temporary, but many will convert to permanent roles over time, the company said.
Walmart said it plans to speed up the hiring process for key roles including cashiers and stockers, by cutting the process from an average of two weeks to 24 hours. Candidates can apply at careers.walmart.com.
Bartlett said he hoped the hiring spree “contributes a bit to easing the pain of this broader economic downturn that the coronavirus is causing.”
“We believe there are multiple industries seeing acute pain and layoffs due to [coronavirus] already,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett also provided an update on store operations, as demand surges from shoppers stocking up on food and household essentials in preparation for a wider spread of the novel virus.
He said the entire grocery industry is under an “extreme amount of stress” and that Walmart is working with suppliers to keep shelves stocked. The company “feels good” about the processes that are underway, he said.
Walmart is also seeing more shoppers migrate online. The company’s pickup services, which allows customers to order groceries ahead for pickup at stores, is “getting slammed,” he said.
At one point during the call, Bartlett compared the atmosphere at Walmart in the last several days to that of the White House during the September 11 terrorist attacks against the US.
“I was in the White House during the 9/11 days,” he said. “The pace and complexity of issues is on par.”
Walmart’s first coronavirus testing sites should open within the next 72 hours
While Walmart works on keeping shelves stocked, the company is also partnering with the federal government to set up drive-thru coronavirus testing sites in its parking lots.
The first of those sites is expected to launch within the next 72 hours, Bartlett said.
“We have teams on the ground, we have tents, and everything’s ready,” he said. The sites are waiting on supplies of personal protection equipment and swabbing test kits to get up and running.
“Once we figure out the supply issue, I think we’ll be off to the races,” he said.