The John Lewis Partnership has launched a home computing scheme and childcare vouchers despite the majority of its staff being low paid. Adam Brooke, manager, benefits strategy at the Partnership, which has over 63,000 staff, admitted that the scheme was a challenge to introduce.
"Because it’s so new for the Partnership, there’s obviously been systems issues and issues around the Inland Revenue’s criteria." This lead John Lewis, along with a number of other large organisations, to lobby the government on the issue of salary sacrifice and the minimum wage.
"What we have got in retail is typically a lower-paid workforce and what we’ve been lobbying – especially through the Low Pay Commission (LPC) and our channels in the Retail Consortium – is that we don’t want to exclude our lower-paid partners because they’re the ones that will be benefiting. We have been lobbying quite hard and we’ve just had feedback that the government has agreed for the LPC to carry out a review of the national minimum wage and salary sacrifice schemes," added Brooke. The retailer decided to introduce the benefits after national publicity led staff to ask questions.
Brooke said that the organisation’s employee councils and committees then looked into the schemes. "It’s very different for us and it’s one of those things that partners have been asking for because they read things in the papers and other employers are doing it."