(Reuters) – Walmart Inc (WMT.N) said on Tuesday it would spend another $428 million on bonuses this year, to compensate its U.S. employees for catering to a surge in demand for essential goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

KEY POINTS

  • Walmart will give a third round of special bonuses to hourly employees during the pandemic.
  • The big-box retailer announced its stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
  • All of the bonuses have totaled $1.1 billion.

The United States’ largest employer said the new spending brings the total expenditure on employee bonuses to $1.1 billion this year.

Walmart, like other essential retailers, has seen a spike in demand for groceries and has had to add hundreds of thousands of new hourly workers to keep up. However, those costs as well as the expenditure to keep stores operating safely have pressured its profit margins.

The company said full-time hourly employees will get a $300 bonus, while part-time and temporary employees will get $150, adding that drivers, managers and assistant managers will also receive a bonus.

The world’s largest retailer also said it would close its own and Sam’s Club outlets on Thanksgiving day this year.

During the pandemic, employees have had to work to keep up with that strong demand and have put their health at risk. Some Walmart employees have gotten sick and died from Covid-19. A family of a longtime employee in Illinois filed a wrongful death lawsuit in April.

Walmart has adopted a growing number of safety measures over the course of the pandemic, including providing masks and taking employees’ temperatures. This week, it began requiring all customers to wear masks or face coverings.

The retailer has given two other special bonuses to employees. All of the bonuses have totaled $1.1 billion.

In the announcement on Tuesday, Walmart said its stores — and its warehouse clubs Sam’s Club — will be closed on Thanksgiving Day to show appreciation for workers, too.

“We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. said in a news release. “We are certainly thankful to our people for all of their efforts.”

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Reuters

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