Finest Purchase provides pandemic-related bonuses to staff amid firm layoffs

People wear protective face masks outside Best Buy in Union Square as the city resumes Phase 4 reopening after restrictions were imposed in New York City on September 24, 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

Best Buy said it will pay pandemic-related bonuses to all hourly employees and provide additional paid time off for those receiving Covid-19 vaccines.

The consumer electronics retailer announced the rewards Tuesday, roughly two weeks after confirming it was laying off some store employees as part of a company-wide reorganization. The layoffs were first reported in the Wall Street Journal. It didn’t state how much the bonuses will cost the company.

Best Buy sales have increased as consumers turned to their stores and website to buy laptops, video game consoles, kitchen appliances, and other gadgets, work, and entertain themselves at home during the pandemic. Online sales almost tripled in the third quarter. However, the company declined to provide an outlook for the fourth quarter, warning that it could expect higher shipping costs, inventory challenges and lower margin sales over the holidays.

The company is due to report its profits on Thursday before the bell.

Best Buy had 125,000 full-time and part-time employees in January 2020. In mid-April, around 51,000 people were employed, including almost all part-time workers, as it was decided to close stores and only offer roadside pick-up. In June, some employees on leave were brought back and customers were able to visit most stores without an appointment.

The company granted employees in the branches and in the supply chain a pandemic-related upgrade between the end of March and the beginning of August. In August it increased its minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.

Best Buy did not indicate how many employees will lose their jobs as a result of their restructuring. In a prepared statement, the company said the global health crisis has permanently postponed more online sales – and that it will change the roles of employees as well.

“Our workforce needs to evolve to meet the changing needs of customers and offer our employees more flexible options,” said a statement.

A company spokesman said workers who lose their jobs will continue to receive bonuses.

Full-time hourly workers will get $ 500 and part-time hourly workers will get $ 200, the company said. Workers are not required to take Covid shots, but they do provide an incentive for those who do: eight hours of paid time off for full-time workers and four hours of paid time off for part-time workers. If they feel sick after receiving the vaccine, Best Buy states that they will receive the same amount of additional sick leave due to their full or part-time status.

Other retailers including Target, Dollar General, and Kroger have also offered perks such as: B. additional payment or free transport.

The pandemic has increased sales in grocery stores, large stores, and hardware store chains. Many of these companies have paid bonuses or raised wages in the past few quarters. Target hastened plans to increase the starting wage to $ 15 an hour this summer and gave a bonus after the holiday season. Walmart recently announced it would increase 425,000 employees in digital or warehouse functions.

Retailers with strong sales during the pandemic have been scrutinized. Their profits have risen as their employees took additional risks and in some cases fell ill or died of Covid-19 after filling shelves or checking customers. The pursuit of higher wages has also grown in importance as more states raise their minimum wages and President Joe Biden campaigns for a minimum wage of $ 15.

Higher wages and pandemic-related paid vacation benefits have also weighed on corporate profits. For example, Walmart said it spent $ 1.1 billion on Covid-related spending in the fourth quarter alone.

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