Walmart Using Temp Workers Aggressively To Supplement Workforce

Walmart  (NYSE:WMT) has dramatically increased its use of temporary workers in its U.S. stores, using five to 10 times as many as it used last year, Walmart officials say, according to a Reuters report.

Temporary workers—aka "flexible associates"—are paid the same starting salary as other workers, Walmart spokesperson David Tovar told Reuters. Fewer than 10 percent of its U.S. workforce is temporary, "compared with 1 to 2 percent before 2013," the story said.

The story said one factor behind the temporary worker move is an attempt to avoid paying health-care costs that would otherwise be required. Tovar said that the move wasn't related to these health-care reforms, but the story said that "he did acknowledge that it could take a year or more for temporary workers to receive health care benefits. Turnover in retail often occurs within the first few months."

These temporary workers explain one way that Walmart has boosted its number of stores while keeping its fulltime payroll fairly flat.

The temporary workers are often being hired on 180-day contracts, the story said.

The move to hire more temps throughout the year has not caught on with Walmart's rivals such as Target, Costco and Sears, all of which said they are hiring full time and part-time employees but don't plan to hire temps outside of seasonally busy periods like the holidays.

"I don't know about others' practices or philosophies, but I can say that Costco's general hope and expectation when hiring an employee is to make it a long-term relationship," said Patrick Callans, vice president for human resources and risk management at Costco.

For more:

- See Reuters story

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