John Lewis improves employee support programme, extending parental leave
John Lewis Partnership, the UK’s largest employee-owned retailer, has improved its support package for working families and young people leaving the care system.
It becomes the first British retailer to launch six months’ equal parenthood paid leave and two weeks’ paid leave for any Partner (employee) who experiences the loss of a pregnancy.
These commitments have been introduced alongside the start of a pilot programme to provide career help for young people leaving the care system.
“Informed by feedback from Partners who shared what mattered most to them, these commitments support our vision to become the UK’s most inclusive business for our Partners and customers, reflecting and connecting with the diverse communities we serve”, it said.
“These new commitments are a stride forward in redefining our responsibility to this principle and what it means to our Partners in today’s society”, it added.
The support programme, announced today, forms part of the retailer’s broader Partnership and includes equal parental pay and leave: From this autumn, all Partners and regardless of how they have become a parent, will receive 26 weeks paid leave (14 weeks at full contractual pay and 12 weeks at 50% contractual pay) once they have worked for the Partnership for one year.
There's also pregnancy loss support: Any Partner who experiences the loss of a pregnancy will be entitled to take two weeks’ paid leave. They will also have access to emotional support through the Partnership’s free counselling and mental health services.
All job vacancies will be advertised with a flexible working option, unless there's an operational reason why this isn't possible. A ‘blended’ working approach for office-based Partners also begins this month, providing them with choice and flexibility with where and how they work. And through its internal Part-Time Advisory Group, the retailer has identified more ways to support part-time Partners “to help them progress in our business". This includes changes to its flexible working policy and reviewing its recruitment processes.
This month, it also started a pilot programme with Essex County Council to help young people aged 18-24 leaving the care system into employment. It will help identify job opportunities via its current job vacancies and provide support including coaching and mentoring and interview practice in the run up. It will also continue with ongoing coaching and mentoring once a role has been secured.
Speaking of these and other diversity and equality initiatives, Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “As an employee-owned business, equality matters to us. We want John Lewis and Waitrose to be a place for everyone and for people from all walks of life to feel valued so they can thrive in our business.
“We want to be there for our Partners to support them in important life moments, whether that’s stepping into the world of work for the first time, or becoming a parent”.
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