Walmart expands military absence program to cover pay difference

By Markets FOXBusiness

A general view shows a Wal-Mart store in Monterrey, Mexico, August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril (Reuters)

Walmart (WMT) on Tuesday said it would expand a military leave of absence policy by offering to make up the difference in pay for employees who earn less than their company salary during military assignments.

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Starting on June 24, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail chain will offer “deferential pay” for any military-related absence that lasts longer than three days. The changes will expand the program to include coverage during basic training.

“We believe that anyone who wants to serve in our Armed Forces should be able to do so without fear of losing wages or leaving their family in a lurch,” Retired Brigadier General Gary Profit, senior director of military programs for Walmart, said in a statement.

Walmart also said it is working to simplify the application process for employees eligible for the military leave of absence policy. Walmart employees took more than 4,400 military-related absences in 2016, according to the company.

A U.S. Army private with less than two years of service time earns about $19,198.80 annually, according to the army’s website. Walmart increased its minimum wage to $10 per hour in February 2016.

Walmart says it has hired more than 170,000 veterans of the armed services since 2013, more than 22,000 of which were eventually promoted. The company is aiming to hire 250,000 veterans by the end of 2020.

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The Military Times ranked Walmart 37th on its list of the best employers of veterans in 2017.

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