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Wal-Mart raises its hourly starting wage to $11, hands out bonuses of up to $1,000

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Wal-Mart said Thursday it plans to lift its minimum wage to $11 an hour for its U.S. workers and provide them with a one-time cash bonus of up to $1,000 due to expected gains from the new tax law.

The nation’s largest retailer, with about 1.5 million U.S. employees and nearly $500 billion in global revenue, also said it would expand its workers’ maternity and parental leave benefits.

The new wages take effect in mid-February, the company said.

“We are building on investments we’ve been making in associates, in their wages and skills development,” Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said in a statement.

Although the move lifts its overall starting U.S. wage from $10 an hour, the increase matches the current California minimum wage. Wal-Mart has about 315 outlets in the state.

On Jan. 1, the starting wage for large companies with more than 25 employees in California rose to $11 an hour from $10.50 as part of a state minimum-wage law approved in 2016. The starting wage in California eventually will reach $15 an hour by 2022.

The new tax law lowers the U.S. corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.

The one-time bonus, which will vary depending on a worker’s length of service, would total about $400 million in Wal-Mart’s current fiscal year that ends Jan. 31, the retailer said.

Last fiscal year, Wal-Mart had profit of $13.6 billion on worldwide revenue of $485.9 billion.

Wal-Mart said in an email that maternity leave is for mothers who physically give birth and that parental leave is for “non-birthing mothers, fathers, partners, adopting parents, families doing foster care, same-sex couples adopting and so forth.”

Before the change announced Thursday, it said, “full-time hourly workers were eligible for six to eight weeks of maternity leave at 50 percent pay, and Wal-Mart did not offer any parental leave for full-time hourly workers. Now, they will be eligible for 10 weeks of maternity leave at 100 percent pay and six weeks of parental leave at 100 percent pay.”

It is also offering adoption assistance for the first time of $5,000 per child.

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