John Lewis Partnership has come under fire after an online petition highlighted that its 3,000 contracted cleaning staff do not receive the living wage.
A change.org petition, which asks the retailer to pay the living wage of £8.80 in London and £7.65 in the rest of the UK, has received 50,000 signatures.
The petition states that John Lewis has contracted out its cleaning services to staff who are not paid the living wage.
Neil Spring, group senior external communications manager at John Lewis Partnership, said: “Fair pay is one of the core principles of the John Lewis Partnership and we share the living wage campaign’s objectives to pay employees fairly.
“We achieve that, however, through different means. Our policy is to pay the market rate for a job and as much above that as can be justified by performance.
“On top of that, our employees receive a share of our profits, as well as other benefits such as a final salary pension.
“In relation to cleaning, with a few historical exceptions, the majority of cleaners who work in our branches are, as with almost every organisation, contractors.
“Most work for more than one employer, often on the same day. Like all retailers, we work with many different contractors of various kinds throughout our supply chain. We could not operate effectively if all our contractors were partners.
“We take our responsibilities to all our suppliers and contractors very seriously. We expect them to uphold good employment standards.
“However, we do not believe it is right for us to insist our suppliers or managing agents adopt pay policies that are different to our own by setting base pay levels well above the market rate.”
Mike Kelly, chair of the Living Wage Foundation and head of corporate responsibility at KPMG, added: “It’s very clear that there is a significant level of support from the general public for employers to pay the living wage.
”There is an opportunity now for a retailer to claim that first-mover advantage and John Lewis would be an obvious sector leader. We would love to work with John Lewis to help make this a reality.”
More than 650 organisations, including KPMG, Nationwide and Tate and Lyle have already committed to paying the living wage.