CVS Health: Federal tax overhaul prompts wage, benefit increases for employees

CVS HEALTH HAS announced it will share $425 million in tax savings with its employees through wage increases, health and family leave benefits. / BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL NAGLE
CVS HEALTH HAS announced it will share $425 million in tax savings with its employees through wage increases, health and family leave benefits. / BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL NAGLE

WOONSOCKET – CVS Health has announced three employee wage and benefit improvement programs totaling $425 million annually to share with employees tax savings created by the federal tax overhaul.

Effective April 2018, the company will increase the starting wage rate for hourly employees to $11 an hour, up $2 from the current average rate for CVS cashiers at $9 an hour, according to job-applications.com, the company announced Feb. 8.

The company also plans to adjust pay ranges and rates for many of its retail pharmacy technicians, front store associates and other hourly retail employees later in the year.

The company is also opting to keep employee premiums level for the 2018-2019 plan year. While medical and prescription costs have increased 5 percent year over year, CVS Health will absorb the entire increase for the 100,000 employees who have elected to enroll in the company-sponsored health plan, the company said.

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CVS Health has also announced a new paid parental leave program. Effective April 1, full-time employees with new children in their homes can take up to four weeks away from work at 100 percent of their pay.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to the patients, customers and communities we serve, we said that we would invest our tax savings back into our business and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Larry J. Merlo, CVS Health president and CEO. “Today, we’re building on the investments we’ve been making in our employees, in their wages, benefits and career development. It’s our employees who drive our performance and we appreciate how hard they work every day to deliver on our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”

During the company’s fourth-quarter 2017 earnings announcement Feb. 8, CVS Health indicated it anticipated spending the remaining tax benefit on investments in data analytics, care management solutions and store service offering pilots to improve health outcomes and lower costs for patients, as well as on debt reduction related to its planned acquisition of Aetna.

“We are also making additional, significant infrastructure investments that will allow us to accelerate our long-term growth objectives,” Merlo added.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.