Walmart is rolling out a new short-term disability program, simplified paid time off policy and a pay increase in 2016 for its U.S. employees.

The short-term disability program, which came into effect from January 1, offers more financial protection to employees who need to be away from work for an extended period of time due to their own medical needs, such as an illness, injury or having a baby.

The basic plan will pay 50% of an employee’s average weekly wage, up to $200, for up to 26 weeks. Walmart is also offering an enhanced version of the plan, which costs less than the company’s previous voluntary plan and provides more coverage. Under the enhanced plan, employees would receive up to 60% of their average weekly wage with no weekly maximum for up to 26 weeks.

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The new paid time off policy, effective from March 5, will streamline paid vacation, sick time, personal time and holiday time into one category. It will also eliminate the company’s one-day wait to use sick time.

Full-time employees will be able to carry over up to 80 hours (48 hours for part time) of paid time off from year to year, and any unused hours at the end of the year above that amount will be paid automatically to hourly employees in the first paycheque every February.

Walmart will also implement a pay increase on February 20 that will impact more than 1.1. million hourly employees. The changes include:

  • All employees hired before January 1, 2016 will earn at least $10 an hour.
  • New entry-level employees will continue to start at $9 an hour and move to at least $10 an hour after successfully completing the company’s new retail skills and training program, Pathways.
  • Employees who already earn more than $10 an hour will receive an annual pay increase in February rather than waiting until their anniversary date.

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“We are committed to investing in our [employees] and continuing to simplify our business,” said Judith McKenna, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. in a news release.

“We’re seeing strong increases in both customer experience and [employee] engagement scores. Five straight quarters of positive comps in our U.S. business is just one example of how helping our [employees] grow and succeed helps the company do the same.”

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