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Wal-Mart to hike pay of vast majority of U.S. employees

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Starting February 20, every Wal-Mart and Sam's Club employee hired before January 1, 2016, will earn at least $10 per hour, the company announced Wednesday.

Walmart said it was also raising the minimum rates for hourly pay bands, which differ based on job type, but would leave the maximum rate unchanged following a bump past year.

Vacation, sick time, personal time and holiday time will be combined into one category, and full-time hourly employees will be allowed to carry over up to 80 hours of paid time off year-to-year. Hourly wages for full-time Walmart employees will increase from an average of $13 to $13.38 (and for part-time employees, the average wage will go from $10 to $10.58.) Unfortunately, that's still lower than the average for US retail workers, which according to the Labor Department is $14.95.

The largest private employer in the US notes the latest move will shrink the gap between the lowest paid and more senior employees.

The announcement arrives five days after the multinational retail corporation announced it was closing 269 stores worldwide, 154 in the United States, and laying off 16,000 employees, 10,000 of whom were in the US. But the giant retailer said Wednesday that hourly workers employed in its stores as of December 31 would get at least a 2% pay bump.

Carter also ordered Walmart to expunge any disciplinary infractions against those employees, and to read a notice in the stores where they worked informing employees of their rights under the law.

"We are committed to investing in our associates and to continuing to simplify our business", said Judith McKenna, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., in a press release. Wal-Mart declined to provide the average hourly wages for Sam's Club workers.

In a statement, the group Making Change At Walmart said,"America's hard-working families expect better from a company that makes billions in profit a year, and that is owned by one of the wealthiest families in the world".

Wal-Mart's initial pay increase triggered complaints. Fragasso Group bought a new position in Wal-Mart Stores during the fourth quarter valued at about $614,000.

Wal-Mart previously reported that this second phase of the $2.7 billion pay and benefit boost would result in an overall Arkansas payroll gain of $63.7 million. First, the company began cutting employee work hours.

- Workers who already make $10 per hour will get an annual pay raise in February instead of waiting for their anniversary of their hiring. Effective Jan. 1, the plan will pay 50 percent of a worker's average weekly wage, up to $200, for up to 26 weeks.

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