Walmart Inc. of Bentonville is ramping up hiring and providing special bonuses to U.S. hourly employees amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The publicly traded retailer, the nation's largest employer, announced Thursday that it would make $550 million in bonus payments, some on an accelerated schedule, to hourly workers at its Walmart stores, Sam's Clubs and offices and within its supply chain.
The company also said it would hire 150,000 temporary U.S. hourly workers for its stores and distribution centers through the end of May as online orders surge with households stocking up.
Spokesman Dan Bartlett told The Associated Press that the company is reaching out for workers to industry groups in the restaurant and hospitality industry, both of which are getting slammed by lockdowns and travel bans. While most of the new jobs would be temporary, Bartlett said many will become permanent.
In a memo to employees, Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said the retailer is hiring "to help support you as you deal with the current level of demand" as online orders surge and American households stock up.
"During a very uncertain and stressful time, you have done your jobs with calm, compassion, and excellence," Furner said. "Because of you, Americans have been able to get the items and services they need from clean, orderly, stores — or delivered right to their doorsteps."
Walmart said it would pay $300 bonuses for full-time hourly employees and $150 for part-time hourly employees — more than $365 million. Every hourly worker employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify, and it will pay out on April 2.
The company said it will also accelerate its next scheduled quarterly bonus for store, Sam's Club and supply chain workers a month early. The company said it will pay those bonuses as if the company achieved its first quarter plan. That early payout will add up to $180 million, it said.
"We know this is a difficult time when many people could use more cash, and we want to support you how we can," Furner said.
The moves come as other retailer work to meet customer demand. Walmart rival Amazon this week announced it would hire 100,000 people across the U.S. to keep up with a crush of orders.