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Both Walmart and Target will be paying out bonuses to store associates in April.

Walmart invests $550M, Target $300M in employees on coronavirus front lines

Sweeping packages include hourly wage hikes, bonus payments, special benefits

Walmart plans to pay U.S. hourly workers a special cash bonus as part of a $550 million package in support of their extra efforts to serve customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Target announced it will invest more than $300 million in an hourly wage increase, bonus payments, paid leave and an employee relief fund for “significant contributions its frontline team members are playing during an incredible time of need.”

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart said late yesterday it will pay a cash bonus of $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly associates in stores, clubs, supply chain and offices on April 2. All hourly staff employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify for the bonuses, which will total more than $365 million.

In addition, Walmart will pay its next scheduled quarterly bonus for store, club and supply chain associates a month earlier, in late April, so associates have more cash in hand sooner. The company also said the regularly scheduled bonus payout in May may reflect an increase, based on performance. The early payout program will total $180 million.

Walmart noted that, overall, nearly $550 million will be “going into associates’ pockets and the economy at this important time.” Hourly fourth-quarter bonuses were paid this week, with hourly associates slated to receive bonus payments on March 19, April 2, April 30 and May 28, the company said.

“Walmart associates have gone above and beyond the call of duty in serving our customers during these unprecedented times,” Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We want to reward our associates for their hard work and recognize them for the work that is in front of us.”

To help handle the increased demand on stores — as customers in communities nationwide lock down to slow the spread of COVID-19 — Walmart also aims to hire 150,000 new associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. The company said many of these temporary jobs will convert to permanent roles over time.

Walmart also has reached out to industry groups representing the restaurant and hospitality sectors, which have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis, to offer temporary jobs to displaced employees. To aid the employment drive, Walmart said it’s implementing a new process to “dramatically expedite hiring” for key roles, such as cashiers and stockers. The measure will reduce a typically two-week application cycle to 24 hours, according to the company.

“We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we’re currently seeing strong demand in our stores,” McMillon explained. “We’re looking for people who see Walmart as a chance to earn some extra money and perform a vital service to their community.”

Minneapolis-based Target said Friday that it’s raising hourly workers’ pay by $2 an hour until at least May 2.

With the increase, store and distribution center hourly full-time and part-time employees will earn an average of $240 to $480 more during this time span, the retailer reported, adding that if will offer extra hours to current staff and then pursue additional hiring where needed.

Target also announced that, for the first time, it will pay out bonuses to its 20,000 hourly store team leads, who oversee individual departments in Target stores. The bonuses, to be paid in April, will range from $250 to $1,500.

And in a new employee option effective immediately, Target is offering paid leave of up to 30 days to workers who are age 65 and older, are pregnant or have underlying medical conditions. The company said the option comes in addition to an expansion of back-up care for all staff, a temporary waiver of its absenteeism policy, and coverage of quarantine and confirmed illness pay.

“We continue to experience incredible demand across our business, and Target's ability to help our guests in this unprecedented time would not be possible without the strength of our team. I am proud and humbled by the dedication and humanity they show to our guests every day,” stated Target CEO Brian Cornell. “Increasing their compensation for a job incredibly well done and ensuring continued compensation for those who need to care for themselves and their families is a reflection of our company's values and simply the right thing to do.”

Also as part of its $300 million investment package, Target will donate $1 million to the Target Team Member Giving Fund to aid employees most impacted by coronavirus. Established in 2018, the relief fund supports workers through times of hardship. The company said it will match up to an additional $1 million in contributions from fellow staffers who want to assist colleagues in need.

“Families across the country are counting on Target in so many ways during this pandemic, and our team has been nothing short of remarkable,” Cornell added. “The commitments we’re making today will provide additional resources for our most valuable asset: our team, their families and the communities impacted by the coronavirus.”

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