business news in context, analysis with attitude

Walmart announced on Friday that it is making significant changes to its US employment policies, making it possible for store and distribution center workers “to earn as many as 48 hours of what it calls ‘Protected Paid Time Off,’ which is classified separately from their regular vacation time and can be used for any reason.”

The story says that the move is designed to standardize a patchwork of local policies as well as to improve Walmart’s image as an employer in a competitive labor market.

However, Walmart’s new rules also include a stick as well as a carrot:

“The retailer has also cut by nearly half the number of attendance infractions allowed over a six-month period before a worker is fired,” Bloomberg writes. “ In addition, quarterly bonus payments, which were previously based only on a store’s performance, are now partially tied to attendance. A worker who bails on a couple of shifts, for example, could see his or her bonus cut by as much as half. Those with no violations, meanwhile, can receive 25 percent more. (Workers who use their protected leave won’t get penalized for absences, no matter the reason.)”

The story notes that “About 300,000 U.S. hourly workers have perfect attendance, Walmart said. That’s less than a third of its 1.1 million-strong hourly workforce … From Walmart’s perspective, the new policies are designed to combat absenteeism both by making it easier for workers to take the time they need and discouraging no-shows.”
KC's View:
One of the things that Walmart says is that all of its efforts to be perceived as a better employer - higher wages, better parental leave policies and even a moire relaxed dress code - have led to a 10 percent lower turnover rate … and apparently has prompted it to do even more.

The only thing that would worry be about this policy is that people who need or want that bonus are going to come to work when they’re sick, which really isn’t good for anyone. That said, rewarding people with the best work ethic strikes me as a positive.