Walmart on Thursday announced over $700 million in additional bonuses to U.S.-based employees. That includes $319 million in quarterly bonuses paid to associates in their Nov. 25 paychecks. The retail giant will pay another $388 million in special cash bonuses on Dec. 24 to recognize employees for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 1.5 million full- and part-time Walmart and Sam's Club associates working across its stores and facilities will receive the Dec. 24 bonus, the company said.
The Christmas Eve payout will be the fourth special cash bonus that the retailer has paid to its American employees since the pandemic disrupted retail operations in the U.S. The fourth bonus will bring the company's total payouts to more than $2.8 billion, per the company press release.
In its announcement, Walmart also mentioned the extension of its COVID-19 emergency leave policy, which allows part-time and full-time staffers to stay home for up to two weeks with pay for COVID-19 related reasons such as mandated quarantining, COVID-19 symptoms or illness. If workers can't return after that period, additional pay replacement may be provided for up to 26 weeks, and their time off with approved COVID-19 leave won't be counted against them. The company is extending this policy through July 5, 2021.
"Our associates have stepped up to serve our customers, communities and each other when it was truly needed the most, and we're pleased to recognize their efforts with a quarterly bonus for strong store performance and a fourth special cash bonus," John Furner, president and CEO at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. The bonuses will amount to $150 for part-time and temporary staffers and $300 for full-time hourly staffers. Assistant managers, drivers and coaches will also receive a bonus.
Over the course of the pandemic, Walmart has made adjustments to its staffing and operations. In July, the company said it would close its U.S. stores on Thanksgiving to let workers spend the holiday with their loved ones, the first time the retail giant had done so since the late 1980s. In March, the retailer announced that it would temporarily hire 150,000 associates to work in its clubs, stores, distribution and fulfillment centers, some of which would go on to become permanent positions. The retailer announced the following month that it would hire an additional 50,000 associates to meet consumer demand. More recently, on Tuesday, the company laid off more than 1,200 workers as it retools its omnichannel operations.
Walmart joins other retailers, including Dollar General and Target, that have also paid out bonuses to their staff. The retail giant is one of a handful of retailers that have done well during the pandemic. In its third quarter the company's U.S. sales rose 6.2% to $88.4 billion, with domestic comparable sales increasing 6.4%. E-commerce sales rose 79% with "strong results across all channels."