John Lewis Partnership has today announced it will become the first UK retailer to introduce 26 weeks equal parenthood paid maternity and paternity leave, and two weeks’ paid leave for any employee who experiences pregnancy loss.
The commitments sit alongside the start of a pilot programme to provide career help for young people leaving the care system – part of a new package of support for employees.
From this autumn, all staff, regardless of gender, 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.
Any employee who experiences the loss of a pregnancy will be entitled to take two weeks’ paid leave. Like all partners, 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 is an operational reason why this is not possible. A ‘blended’ working approach for office-based partners also begins this month, providing partners with choice and flexibility with where and how they work.
Additionally this month, the partnership is also starting a pilot programme with Essex County Council to help young people aged 18 to 24 leaving the care system into employment. A company statement reads: “We will help identify job opportunities via our current job vacancies and provide support including coaching and mentoring and interview practice in the run up. We will also continue with ongoing coaching and mentoring once a role has been secured.”
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.”