The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has become the latest UK company and the first major retailer to match the parental leave it offers its employees.
The employee-owned retailer, which includes John Lewis and Waitrose, will offer all of its 80,000 employees six-month paid parental leave, a move hailed by equality activists who have argued that the current scheme government shared parental leave was “in check”.
Staff, known as Partners, will also be offered two weeks of paid pregnancy loss leave, following other companies such as Monzo, Abel & Cole and Channel 4 that recently announced similar policies. .
John Lewis Partnership president Dame Sharon White said the measures were part of a package to improve equality in the company. “We want John Lewis and Waitrose to be a place where everyone and people from all walks of life feel valued so that they can thrive in our business,” she said.
“We want to be there for our partners to support them at important times in life, whether it’s entering the world of work for the first time or becoming a parent,” she added.
The equalized leave will be implemented this fall for employees who have been in the company for a year. It will grant partners 26 weeks of paid leave, including 14 full pay and 12 half pay.
The company also announced policies to promote diversity in the workforce and said all future vacancies will be advertised as flexible. Office staff will have the option of “mixed” work this month, with the flexibility to choose when to split their time between work and home.
The move comes despite a difficult year for John Lewis, who reported his first-ever full-year loss in March and confirmed plans to shut down eight more outlets permanently, with the potential loss of nearly 1,500 jobs.
Adrienne Burgess, Co-Executive Director of the Fatherhood Institute, a think tank, said: “It’s great to see John Lewis join the ranks of top employers by giving every new mother and father an individual right to well-paid parental leave. Top employers like John Lewis are moving beyond the government’s failing shared parental leave system to give families what they want and what they really need.