Lidl, a grocery chain with a growing presence in Georgia and the eastern United States, said Monday that it plans to boost its minimum pay in metro Atlanta to $15 an hour next month.
Even as politicians continue to debate upping the federal minimum wage, which has remained unchanged for more than a decade, some employers are raising pay on their own accord.
Lidl’s new starting pay locally will be double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. In metro Atlanta, starting pay was $12.50 an hour.
The discount, Germany-based chain, which began operating the U.S. in 2015, has 12 Atlanta area stores. Another is slated to open this month in Sandy Springs and five more are expected later this year. The company currently has about 350 employees locally, with plans to add a regional distribution center in Covington with another 250 jobs.
“Atlanta is a market we have targeted to invest in and really grow,’' said Tiffany Irving, the human resources director for Lidl U.S.
Metro Atlanta has the highest living costs in Lidl’s southeastern markets, she said.
Lidl hasn’t had difficulty hiring workers locally, according to Irving, but she said the brand isn’t as well known as some other employers in the U.S. As a result, she said, “you have to make the compensation package a little more enticing for candidates.”
She also stressed one of the company’s biggest benefits: It offers health insurance to all full- and part-time workers, as well as free coverage tied to COVID-19. The company didn’t offer special hazard pay because of the pandemic, as some retailers did for a while.
Spokespeople for Kroger and Publix, the biggest grocery chains in metro Atlanta, didn’t answer questions by deadline Monday about each chain’s starting pay.
Some other employers have announced pay bumps recently, including Target, which went to $15 an hour; Hobby Lobby, which said it would start at $17 an hour; and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which promised to go to at least $15 an hour starting in 2021.
Some states and cities have enacted higher minimum wage requirements that go into effect this year. Georgia remains a rarity: The state’s minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage, which is a requirement for most employers even in Georgia.
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Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution