The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has become the latest British business, and the first major retailer, to equalise the parental leave it offers employees.
The employee-owned retailer, which encompasses John Lewis and Waitrose, will offer all of its 80,000-strong workforce six months’ paid parental leave, in a move welcomed by equality campaigners who argued the government’s current shared parental leave scheme is “failing”.
Staff, known as partners, will also be offered two weeks’ paid leave if they experience the loss of a pregnancy, following other firms such as Monzo, Abel & Cole and Channel 4 which recently announced similar policies.
Chair of the John Lewis Partnership, Dame Sharon White, said the measures were part of a package to improve equality in the business. “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,” she 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,” she added.
The equalised leave will come into place this autumn for staff who have been working at the company for a year. It will give partners 26 weeks of paid leave, with 14 at full pay and 12 at half pay.
The company also announced policies to promote diversity in the workforce and said all future job vacancies will be advertised as flexible. Office-based staff will be given the option of “blended” working this month, with the ability to choose when to split time between work and home.
The move comes despite a difficult year for John Lewis, which reported its first-ever full-year loss in March and confirmed plans to permanently close eight more outlets, with the potential loss of almost 1,500 jobs.
Adrienne Burgess, joint chief executive of the Fatherhood Institute, a thinktank, said: “It’s great to see John Lewis joining the ranks of top employers giving each new mother and father individual entitlement to well-paid leave for parenting. Top employers like John Lewis are leapfrogging the government’s failing shared parental leave system to give families what they really want and need.”