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Wal­mart, the world’s largest pri­vate em­ployer, is boost­ing its start­ing salary for US work­ers to $11 an hour, giv­ing a one-time cash bonus of up to $1,000 to el­i­gi­ble em­ploy­ees and ex­pand­ing its ma­ter­nity and parental leave ben­e­fits.

Ac­cord­ing to a PTI, the re­tailer said that changes to its com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits pol­icy will im­pact more than a mil­lion hourly work­ers in the US. The com­pany em­ploys 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple in the US. The wage in­crease, up from $9 per hour for new work­ers, comes into play next month. The com­pany is also cre­at­ing a new ben­e­fit to as­sist em­ploy­ees with adop­tion ex­penses.

CEO Doug Mcmil­lon said that re­cently en­acted tax leg­is­la­tion gives us the op­por­tu­nity to be more com­pet­i­tive glob­ally and to ac­cel­er­ate plans for the US. Large em­ploy­ers have been un­der pres­sure to boost ben­e­fits for work­ers be­cause un­em­ploy­ment rates are at his­toric lows, al­low­ing job seek­ers to be pick­ier. The na­tion’s un­em­ploy­ment rate has sat at 4.1 per­cent for three months now, the low­est level since 2000. The av­er­age for hourly earn­ings rose 2.5 per­cent in De­cem­ber from a year ear­lier.

Wal­mart said that the one-time bonus will be given to all el­i­gi­ble full and part­time hourly US em­ploy­ees. The amount of the bonus will be based on length of ser­vice. Work­ers with at least 20 years qual­ify for a US$ 1,000 bonus. Wal­mart has promised full-time hourly US em­ploy­ees 10 weeks of paid ma­ter­nity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried em­ploy­ees will also re­ceive six weeks of paid parental leave.

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