Supermarket retailer Asda has proposed a new contract for its hourly-paid retail employees in England, Scotland and Wales, offering to increase pay to £9 an hour but cut paid breaks.
Asda has proposed the new employment contract in order to provide a standardised offering across all its retail employees in the UK, streamlining the organisation’s six existing contract types down to one.
The proposal would increase the basic rate of pay to £9 an hour, with the potential for additional geographical and role premiums. Asda last improved its basic pay rate in 2017 to £8.50 an hour.
The new contract asks employees to agree to work more flexibly, for example working different times or across different store departments. Asda states that at least three weeks’ notice would be given for rota changes, and consideration would be given to staff with additional commitments outside of work. The organisation will also move towards making all breaks unpaid.
The proposed contract further details a change in the night shift window and an increase to the night shift premium. It also requires employees to work bank holidays unless they are booked as annual leave, excepting Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, which will remain voluntary and paid at double time. The contract confirms that employees will receive 28 days of annual leave in total, including bank holidays.
Anthony Hemmerdinger, senior vice president, operations, said: “Our [employees] do an amazing job every day and we want to continue to reward them with a higher rate of pay, plus benefits such as their annual bonus.
“As our customers continue to change the way they shop with us, we also have to be prepared to change to meet their needs and a key part of delivering great service is having the right [employees] in the right place at the right time, which is what this contract aims to achieve.
“This proposal is also about increasing our basic rate of pay and aligning the way of working in our stores so that everyone has the same contract, making it fairer to all [employees] and ensuring we can consistently provide the best service to customers.”
Asda has entered into a collective consultation process with employees on the proposed contract changes. If successful, Asda expects the contract to take effect from late 2019.
Asda predicts that around 5% of its retail staff will be at a financial disadvantage as a result of the new contract implementation. It plans to provide them with a transition payment, which is to be agreed during the consultation process.
The contact is already available on a voluntary basis, currently applied to 50,000 staff.
Gary Carter, national officer at trade union GMB, added: “Absolutely nothing has been agreed with GMB and we will fight any imposition of these contracts on our members. Since Asda introduced its flexible contract two years ago, nearly 60% of employees have opted not to go on the new contract.
“These contract changes will affect nearly 60,000 members of staff; they cannot just be imposed from the top. We expect Asda to negotiate. If [it wants] to roll out the new contract, [it] must listen to employees and sit down with GMB to discuss beneficial improvements to terms and conditions which have the support of the workforce.”