By ANNE D'INNOCENZIOAP Retail Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Home improvement chain Lowe's Cos. says it's handing out bonuses of up to $1,000 for its more than 260,000 hourly employees, as it becomes the latest major employer to invest in its workers after Congress approved a tax cut that will help businesses.
The chain, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, also will be sweetening benefits for maternity and parental leave as well as offering adoption assistance for the first time.
With the change, Lowe's is now offering paid maternity and parental leave where full-time hourly and salaried employees will receive full pay for 10 weeks maternity and two weeks parental leave. Previously, pay for maternity leave was under the Lowe's short-term disability plan where full-time salaried employees received 100 percent of pay for six weeks and full-time hourly employees received 60 percent of base pay for six weeks, according to Jackie Pardini Hartzell, a company spokeswoman.
The bonuses, which will be given out to both part-time and full-time hourly workers across all its U.S. facilities including distribution centers, will be paid in addition to Lowe's long-standing, store-level bonus program.
Lowe's estimates that the impact of the tax legislation will result in additional net tax expense of about $75 million in the fourth quarter. This charge, coupled with the one-time bonus, is expected to hurt fourth-quarter earnings per share by 14 cents. The retailer will provide more details when it reports quarterly results on Feb. 28.
Lowe's joins a list of other national companies likes Walmart Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Starbucks Corp., which are embracing measures like giving out bonuses, enhancing maternity benefits and raising wages.
Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, said last month it will increase its starting wage for U.S. hourly employees to $11 and is handing out bonuses. It also said that full-time hourly U.S. employees will be able to get 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in an address at the annual retail industry convention last month that its maternity and paternity leave struck the "strongest emotional chord."