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Wal-Mart to kill 1-day wait for sick leave

A Walmart employee checks prices on merchandise before the opening of a new store in Washington.
Bill O'Leary | The Washington Post | Getty Images
A Walmart employee checks prices on merchandise before the opening of a new store in Washington.

Wal-Mart Stores will tweak its labor policy to allow full-time employees to use their sick days as soon as they get ill, the company announced during a media call earlier this week.

As of now, U.S. workers do not receive paid sick time until the second day they're out sick. Employees must use their personal days in order to be compensated on the first day out ill.

"[A]s we've been getting around and listening to our associates, we know that one thing that they would be keen for us to do is to eliminate the one-day waiting period for sick leave. So we'll be taking action on that next year," Walmart U.S. President Greg Foran said Thursday while discussing news around the retailer's plan to hike its minimum wage.

A Wal-Mart employee pushes grocery carts at a store in Miami.
Getty Images
A Wal-Mart employee pushes grocery carts at a store in Miami.

Wal-Mart will eliminate the one-day waiting period next year as it takes a new approach to employment offerings.

The company's U.S. arm announced a package of changes, including comprehensive shift in its hiring, training and scheduling programs.

Among the most immediate changes is a move to raise the wage for some 500,000 current employees to at least $9 an hour in April. By February of 2016, all current associates will earn at least $10 an hour, the company said.

Read MoreWal-Mart wage raise: Home run or not far enough?

It also laid out a plan to allow workers to contribute to 401(k) plans from their first day of employment instead of waiting a year.

The changes come as the company faces macroeconomic headwinds.

Wal-Mart struggled with moderate sales growth, lower share counts and flat operating margins in its 2014 fiscal year, according to S&P Capital IQ, which has a "hold" rating on the company's shares.

Despite a 39.5 percent decline in gasoline prices since June, overall consumer spending has been soft in the past two months. Specifically, Wal-Mart's core customers are expected to spend cautiously over the near term given government benefit reductions and job market uncertainties, economists say.

As of Friday's close, shares of the world's largest retailer had gained roughly 15 percent from a year ago, underperforming its peers Target and Costco, which are up about 36 percent and 32 percent, respectively.