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Retailers offer bonuses, expanded benefits as several launch hiring drives


Leading retailers are looking to recognize the efforts of their employees with bonuses, pay raises and expanded benefits. The moves come as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and retail employees remain frontline workers — and as several retailers look to grow their ranks to meet staffing needs.

CVS Health announced Monday that it would be awarding bonuses of between $150 and $500 to pharmacists and certain other health care professionals on the frontlines, as well as store associates, `managers, and other site-based hourly employees.

"Our colleagues have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to providing essential goods and services at a time when they're needed most," said Larry Merlo, CVS Health president and CEO. "As they continue to be there for the individuals and families we serve, we're taking extra steps to provide some peace of mind and help them navigate these uncertain times."

Similarly, Walgreens, Walmart and Kroger all are rewarding hourly associates across stores and the supply chain, with $300 bonuses for full-time workers and $150 for part-time employees. Walgreens' bonuses will be paid in late April, Kroger's will be payable April 3 and Walmart's will pay out April 2.

“Our store team members are working incredibly hard, in a very challenging and uncertain time and we’re grateful for all they do each day,” said Walgreens president Richard Ashworth. “We play a critical role in responding to the pandemic and our team members, who are the face of Walgreens, are doing everything they can to support customers, patients and communities across America, who are relying on us at this critical time.”

Walmart's bonus is in addition to the retailer paying out its scheduled quarterly bonuses for store, club and supply chain associates a month early. 

When it comes to hourly pay, Rite Aid has implemented a "Hero Pay" increase for non-management hourly associates in stores, RediClinics and distribution centers, increasing their hourly wage by $2 an hour, effective March 15 and lasting through at least May 2. It also has increased its employee discount starting March 24 to 35% through at least April Additionally, the company said its retail store management, including pharmacists, as well as DC management and RediClinic professional associates would be receiving a "Hero Bonus," though the amount was not disclosed. 

Bolstering Benefits
Several retailers also are implementing additional benefits to support their employees. Rite Aid, for example, has implemented a "Pandemic Pay" policy, which ensures employees will be compensated if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or forced to quarantine themselves following exposure to the illness.

Walgreens updated its attendance policy for hourly team members through the end of April, permitting individuals to stay at home due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 for situations including childcare needs, or if team members are showing signs or symptoms of illness. It also is paying employees for the first two weeks of absence due to a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, with an additional pay option through disability leave if they can't return to work in that time. The retailer also has introduced Sanvello a new, free mobile app for all team members to use during this time of increased stress. Sanvello provides peer support and clinically validated coping tools to reduce stress and anxiety, and is offered in addition to its Life365 employee assistance program. 

CVS Health, which also offers 14 days of paid leave for confirmed cases or quarantined employees, also has added 24 hours of sick leave for part-time employees throughout the pandemic. The company also is adding benefits for employees with children or adult dependents who require care. CVS Health is working with Bright Horizons and its network of in-home and center-based daycare providers to give employees 25 fully covered days of backup care. The benefit will kick in beginning in early April for full- and part-time employees. 

Help Wanted
As they bolster the pay and benefits for existing employees, several retailers also are looking to expand their workforce to meet demand. CVS Health is looking to hire 50,000 full- and part-time workers, as well as temporary roles, nationwide, including store associates, home delivery drivers, DC employees and customer service professionals. 

Walmart has said that it plans to hire 150,000 new associates through the end of May, largely on a temporary basis, but with plans to convert to permanent roles over time. Walgreens is looking to add 9,500 roles across its national operation, including pharmacy technicians and shift leads, among other positions. 

In the Midwest, West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee also is looking to grow its workforce. The company put out a call Monday for positions across its eight-state store base and its two Iowa distribution centers. Though the company did not offer a total count of the employees it plans to hire, it noted that the temporary part-time positions would include restocking, cleaning and sanitizing duties. ​​​​​

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