Wal-Mart has announced that is raising the starting pay rates of employees by an average of 6 percent at 1,200 of its stores, aiming to remain competitive with other retailers, the New York Times reports.
The company also said that it is adopting pay ranges at all its stores. Employees wanting to earn more than the maximum in the pay range would have to apply for a promotion.
"Wal-Mart pays competitive wages, and we continue to transform our pay plans as we grow," says Susan Chambers of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "These start rate changes, combined with our competitive benefits like affordable health care, 401K and profit sharing and annual incentives for our hourly associates, make us an even more attractive employer, which is why people stand in line to apply for Wal-Mart jobs."
The newspaper notes that the company says the average wage at Wal-Mart for full-time hourly employees is about $10.11 per hour.
The company's benefits and pay practices have been the subject of criticism, and some politicians on the state and local levels have proposed legislation targeting the company and other employers like it.
In Maryland, a federal judge recently struck down a law that required Wal-Mart to pay at least 8 percent of its payroll on healthcare benefits or pay the difference into the state's health program for low-income families.
The Chicago City Council recently approved an ordinance that would establish a "living wage rate" and "benefits rate" that big-box retailers would be required to pay their employees in the city. The ordinance covers with annual gross revenues of $1 billion or more and with stores in the city of at least 90,000 square feet. The ordinance faces hurdles before it could be enforced. Mayor Richard Daley opposes the living wage ordinance, but proponents of it currently have enough votes to override a veto. The ordinance could also face a legal challenge by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.