Walmart is increasing the wages of more than 1.2 million workers in a move that could potentially impact the numerous pharmacy technicians employed by the retail giant.
 
Effective February 20, 2016, all Walmart and Sam’s Club employees hired before January 1, 2016, will earn at least $10 an hour. Entry-level workers hired after this date will start at an hourly wage of $9, which will be increased to the new $10-an-hour minimum once they complete the new company’s training program.
 
Associates who already earn more than $10 an hour will receive their annual raise in February, rather than having to wait until their work anniversary.
 
Following the changes, Walmart’s full-time workers will earn an average wage of $13.38 an hour, while part-time workers will bring home an average of $10.58 an hour. Once implemented, the pay boost will represent one of the largest single-day wage increases in the private sector, according to a Walmart press release.
 
On March 5, 2016, Walmart will also implement a new paid time off (PTO) program in which full-time associates will be able to use their PTO as soon as it is earned and carry over up to 80 hours of earned time off (48 hours for part-time workers) year-to-year.
 
In addition, employees who are feeling ill will now be able to use their sick time as soon as they feel unwell. Previously, workers would have to wait a day before taking off for their health.
 
Finally, Walmart will provide a basic short-term disability plan to all of its full-time hourly associates at no cost. Employees can also choose to enroll in an enhanced disability plan.
 
These changes are part of Walmart’s 2-year, $2.7 billion initiative to invest in its workers—an effort that the company hopes will reduce turnover and improve customer service.
 
“We are committed to investing in our associates and to continuing to simplify our business,” said Walmart US chief operating officer Judith McKenna in a press release. “When we do so, there is no limit to what our associates can accomplish.”
 
Walmart has not yet specified whether its pharmacy techs will be among those receiving a pay bump. If so, the raise would likely serve as a positive step for the many pharmacy workers who feel that technicians are underpaid, especially in light of their evolving roles and growing responsibilities.
 
“Any tech will tell you that it’s not easy being the backbone of the pharmacy. The days are long, the pace is often frantic, and mistakes can be disastrous. There’s a myriad of changes for technician job roles that cofound the pay problem,” Alex Barker, PharmD, previously wrote. “As the demand for drugs continues to increase, pharmacies may become even more squeezed. Frank discussions and a little creativity will go a long way toward allowing techs and management to develop suitable, individualized solutions to address salary concerns.”
 
Pharmacy technicians generally earn between $26,000 to $39,000 a year, with most techs bringing home about $32,000 annually, according to Dr. Barker.