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John Lewis owner becomes first UK retailer to offer all staff six months’ paid parental leave

·2-min read
 (John Lewis)
(John Lewis)

The firm behind John Lewis and Waitrose on Thursday said it has become the first UK retailer to offer all staff six months’ paid parental leave.

The employee-owned John Lewis Partnership said that the move is part of a new package of support for staff. Employees need to have been with the partnership for one year to receive the benefit.

Its existing offer comprised 14 weeks paid maternity leave for those that have been at the partnership for two years or more, and paternity leave of one week on full pay after one year’s employment in addition to one week of statutory leave.

The John Lewis Partnership also revealed it will offer two weeks paid leave to staff who experience the loss of a pregnancy. There is growing awareness of the impact pregnancy loss has on mental health and wellbeing, with firms such as Monzo recently announcing similar policies.

The company also said that going forward, all its job vacancies will be advertised with a flexible working option.

Office-based staff will begin “blended” working this month, choosing when to split time between work and home.

It is also creating an inclusion committee to “accelerate and scrutinise the delivery of our plans to be a more inclusive business that welcomes and celebrates diversity”.

The retailer has been hit hard by the pandemic and had to slash staff bonuses. The company said the moves were “informed by feedback from partners who shared what mattered most to them”, and that the new commitments “are a stride forward in redefining our responsibility to this principle [of collective ownership] and what it means to our partners in today’s society”.

John Lewis Partnership chair, Sharon White, said: “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.”

Experts have posited that the gender pay gap could be tackled in part by offering equal leave periods to both parents.

Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP and Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee said the initiatives “will make a real difference”.

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