Apple Inc. will give store employees as much as $1,000 in one-time bonuses next month, a rare move that follows a tumultuous effort to get its retail operations back on track after pandemic shutdowns.
The iPhone maker will give $1,000 to retail staff hired before March 31, while anyone who joined after that date will receive $500, according to people familiar with the situation. New workers for the holiday shopping season will get $200, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The payouts also will go to AppleCare and online sales workers as well.
But the good tidings came with a bit of coal. In a separate memo, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook criticized leaks to the press. Key details of Apple’s recent product launch event were reported ahead of time, along with information from a companywide meeting held last week.
Cook said he’d heard from many employees who were “incredibly frustrated to see the contents of the meeting leak to reporters,” according to the memo, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. “This comes after a product launch in which most of the details of our announcements were also leaked to the press.”
The memo sparked fresh concerns from some employees who feel that Apple’s policies are too restrictive. It’s also a potential distraction at a time when the company is focused on rolling out new iPhones and other devices. Preorders began for the iPhone 13 last week, and it reaches stores on Friday.
The Sept. 14 launch event, which also included the new Apple Watch Series 7 and a redesigned iPad mini, kicked off the company’s holiday season blitz. This Christmas will provide a key test of Apple’s retail operations as the company navigates the waning of the pandemic.
The bonuses will be an unusual perk since Apple rarely gives companywide payouts. The last major one was $2,500 worth of restricted stock units in 2018. That bonus followed tax changes allowing Apple to bring back cash from offshore accounts at a lower cost. The new bonuses will be issued via cash in paychecks, rather than as stock units, the people said.
A representative for Apple declined to comment.
The bonuses were presented to retail workers as a recognition of the difficulty of working through the pandemic. Since Covid-19 struck in 2020, Apple stores around the world closed and reopened multiple times – and thousands of workers were given online sales roles while physical locations were shuttered. Retail employees were still paid as normal when stores were closed.
Apple also is facing a tight market for labor, with employers across the U.S. struggling to attract enough staff.
Still, some workers see the bonuses as an acknowledgment of growing unrest among both retail and corporate staff, according to the people. Employees have complained about pay equity and other concerns at the Cupertino, California-based technology giant, with two high-profile cases getting investigated by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board.
At the companywide meeting with employees last week, Apple addressed questions about pay equity and a new anti-abortion law in Texas. Apple said it resolves pay gaps when it finds them, and that it was monitoring the situation in Texas to see how it could help.
Cook also discussed the recent trial between the company and Epic Games about Apple’s App Store policies and announced new Covid-19 vaccination and testing policies.
He followed up this week with the complaints about leaks.
“I want to reassure you that we are doing everything in our power to identify those who leaked,” Cook said in the memo, which was previously reported by the Verge. “As you know, we do not tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s product IP or the details of a confidential meeting.”