Charter Invests in Frontline Employees with April Pay Increase
Commits to $20/Hour Minimum in 2022
In 2018, Charter announced a commitment to a $15/hour minimum wage. Earlier this month they committed to achieving a $20/hour minimum wage in 2022. We asked Charter’s EVP & CHRO Paul Marchand to share some insight into that decision.
What led Charter to provide an immediate $1.50/hour wage increase for frontline employees in the field operations and customer operations?
Paul: Recognizing that our highly-skilled workforce is key to our long-term success, we increased our minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2018 and have been planning to make changes to our minimum hourly wage rate since late last year. Given the difficult crisis we are in with COVID-19, we decided to begin these changes now.
The initial phase of our plan focuses on our largest population of hourly employees—those in field operations and customer operations; however, all of our employees are valued and are critical to Charter’s success, and we are committed to increasing the pay of all other hourly employees and taking action accordingly as we begin a two-year implementation plan to achieve a $20/hour minimum wage across the board in 2022.
Nearly 50,000 employees in field operations and customer operations will receive a $1.50/hour increase now and another increase in March 2021—and then an increase to reach at least $20 per hour in 2022. These increases are in addition to annual merit increases. We also will move our new hire starting wage for hourly employees in these groups to $16.50/hour now so that our entire wage progression structure can move in unison.
How have employees responded to the announcement?
Paul: The feedback has been very positive. These are challenging times, and our employees are working hard every day to deliver essential services to homes, small and large businesses, emergency relief services and as well as public institutions across 41 states – being able to bring home more to their families and on a permanent basis was welcome news.
Do you anticipate that the wage increase will improve the recruitment and retention of frontline employees?
Paul: Yes, we believe that the move to a $20/hour minimum wage as part of our comprehensive total rewards package, strong hourly rate combined with market-leading retirement plans and comprehensive health benefits, will increase our retention of employees and make employment at Charter even more attractive.
We are fortunate that even during the COVID-19 situation, we are still hiring and have many positions available including jobs at two new call centers: 350 positions in El Paso, Texas and 200 positions in Rotterdam, New York. We have virtualized the entire recruiting process so that the first time candidates interact with a person in a live environment is on their first day when they receive their equipment or attend training.
What safety precautions has Charter taken to protect frontline employees who must engage with the public during the pandemic?
Paul: As one of FEMA’s Community Lifeline sectors, Charter’s services are essential. During this time, we continue to maintain our operations while employing the latest CDC guidelines. For example, we’ve implemented social distancing and increased cleaning efforts at Charter buildings across the country and currently the significant majority of our office workers, including call center employees are working remotely.
In spite of continuing supply shortages, Charter has been able to supply customer contact employees with PPE as appropriate to remain consistent with CDC guidelines. Charter has promoted reduced contact with the public by field technicians, store employees and others as we strive to perform work essential to getting or keeping our customers connected during these challenging times.
How else is Charter helping employees amidst the pandemic?
Paul: We have made a number of other important changes to our benefits policies and programs in light of the trying times in which we are currently operating. Those changes include:
Implemented new COVID-19 Flex Time, consisting of 15 days to be used as needed by employees to address challenges associated with the pandemic. This benefit is in addition to other forms of banked PTO.
A COVID-19 work accommodation process to support employees with certain high risk conditions who could experience health complications due to COVID-19, employees with family members at home who have these conditions, and employees challenged with school and child care closures.
Enhanced Personal Leave of Absence, providing up to 60 days of unpaid leave with continued benefits.
Waiving the fees for the cost of COVID-19 testing services.
On April 19, 2020 we further reinforced our commitment to our employees by announcing that for at least the next 60 days no employee will be laid off or furloughed.
Charter has an intense dedication to protecting the take home pay of our highly-skilled workforce. We have a long track record of fully absorbing the annual medical plan cost increases and keeping employee medical contributions the same year after year—and we continue to make investments in our benefit programs such as increasing our contribution to the Health Savings Account and an enhanced fertility program. Our commitment to a higher minimum hourly income and our investments in employees put more money in their pockets now. Plus, wage increases such as this one translate into an increased contribution from Charter to our highly competitive retirement plans, putting employees on track for an even better future.
How is Charter helping the communities it serves during the pandemic?
Paul: As a company, we want to help ease the strain in this challenging time, which is why, beginning March 16, Charter committed to the following for 60 days, and recently extended these commitments through the end of June:
Charter will offer Spectrum Internet
up to 100 Mbps for FREE, including in-home Wi-Fi, to
new subscriber households with teachers or K-12 or college
students for 60 days.
A free self-installation kit is
provided to new student households.
Additionally, Charter will continue
to offer Spectrum Internet Assist, our high speed,
low cost broadband program for eligible low-income
Charter will partner with school
districts to ensure local communities are aware
of these tools to help students learn remotely.
Charter will not terminate service
for residential or small business customers who notify
the company they are facing financial difficulty related
to the COVID-19 situation. Similarly, Charter will not
charge late fees for those customers facing difficult
economic circumstances related to the pandemic.
Charter has opened its Wi-Fi hotspots
across our footprint for public use.
Spectrum News has opened its websites
to ensure people have access to news and information.
Charter has also donated airtime to run 1,000 COVID-19 public service announcement (PSA) spots per week, including on all Spectrum News Networks, for four weeks to our full footprint of 16,000,000 video subscribers at an approximate value of $3,000,000 each week. Charter will also run the PSAs on our digital video and streaming apps.
In closing, do you have any final remarks?
Paul: Charter is a company where our workers don’t just do their jobs, they build careers that are professionally and financially rewarding. And when the lives of our employees are improved, they in turn improve the lives of the customers and communities they serve.