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As ‘Essential’ Retailers, Target and Walmart Spend Nearly $1B on Staffers

Two titans of retail are throwing money at the pandemic problem.

On Thursday, Walmart said it will hand out cash bonuses to hourly associates totaling more than $365 million in April, adding that it plans to hire another 150,000 temporary employees through May.

These will be temporary positions at first but Walmart said many could become permanent.

“We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we’re currently seeing strong demand in our stores,” Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We’re looking for people who see Walmart as a chance to earn some extra money and perform a vital service to their community.”

The new positions apply to stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers, the company said. Walmart has also reached out to various industry groups in the restaurant and hospitality industry to create a bridge for their employees while non-essential businesses are shut down.

Hiring for key roles like cashiers and stockers will be expedited, compressing a two-week application cycle into 24 hours.

Target also has a similar plan to take care of staff during these unusual circumstances. The Minnesota-based retailer unveiled a $300 million plan to increase wages, introduce new bonuses and expand paid leave as it stays open during the unprecedented health crisis.

Target will increase wages by $2 for store and distribution workers, both full-time and part-time, and will also pursue additional hiring “if needed.”

“Increasing their compensation for a job incredibly well done and ensuring continued compensation for those who need to care for themselves and their families is a reflection of our company’s values and simply the right thing to do,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said.

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Walmart’s new bonus will apply to all hourly associates employed in the U.S. as of March 1, including those who work in the supply chain and in offices. Full-time employees will receive $300 while hourly workers will be given $150, according to the retailer.

Walmart also plans to accelerate the timeline for regularly scheduled bonuses awarded to store, club and supply chain associates. These bonuses will be distributed as if the company achieved its quarterly goals but could be increased based on employee performance.

“Walmart associates have gone above and beyond the call of duty in serving our customers during these unprecedented times,” McMillon said. “We want to reward our associates for their hard work and recognize them for the work that is in front of us.”

In April, Target will offer bonuses to 20,000 hourly store leads overseeing individual departments for the first time ever, the company said, with payouts ranging from $250 to $1,500. A “Team Member Giving Fund” will also be set up in order to assist employees impacted by the virus and Target said it will match donations up to $1 million.

Another $9 million will be donated to local communities and nonprofits, national charity organizations such as Feeding America and global response groups like UNICEF.

Last week, Walmart unveiled a new emergency leave policy that allows workers to stay home if they are mandated by quarantines, have the virus or feel uncomfortable coming to work.

As of Friday, Target will allow workers who are 65 and older, pregnant, or have an underlying medical condition to receive paid leave for up to 30 days. The company has already waived its absenteeism policy, expanded back-up care for its employees, and covered quarantine and “confirmed illness pay.”

“Families across the country are counting on Target in so many ways during this pandemic, and our team has been nothing short of remarkable,” Cornell said. “The commitments we’re making today will provide additional resources for our most valuable asset—our team, their families and the communities impacted by the coronavirus.”