John Lewis first retailer to launch six-month equal parenthood leave

The John Lewis Partnership is to become the first UK retailer to launch six-months’ equal parenthood paid leave and two weeks paid leave for any employee who experiences the loss of a pregnancy.

From this autumn, all employees, regardless of how they have become a parent, will receive 26 weeks paid leave (14 weeks at full contractual pay and 12 weeks at 50 per cent contractual pay) once they have worked for the partnership for one year.

Any worker who experiences the loss of a pregnancy will be entitled to take two weeks’ paid leave and will also have access to emotional support through the partnership’s free counselling and mental health services.

The company said that it is committing to advertising all job vacancies with a flexible working option, unless there is an operational reason why this is not possible.

The retailer is also beginning a ‘blended’ working approach for office-based employees this month, giving employees choice about where and how they work.

John Lewis has identified more ways to support part-time workers through its internal Part-Time Advisory Group. This includes changes to the company’s flexible working policy and reviewing our recruitment processes.

The department store chain also said that it will help support ethnic minorities by expanding its reverse mentoring scheme, where ethnic minority employees from across the partnership mentor senior leaders.

As well as this, it is setting up a new inclusion committee in the summer, which will feature external advisers who have strong diversity and inclusion experience, as well as its own internal employees .

This month John Lewis is also starting a pilot programme with Essex County Council to help young people aged 18 to 24 leaving the care system into employment. The company said that it will help identify job opportunities via its current job vacancies and provide support including coaching and mentoring and interview practice in the run up.

“As an employee-owned business, equality matters to us,” said Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership. “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.”

White added: “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.”

“The pandemic has been particularly hard for families juggling all sorts of different demands and pressures and I am pleased but not surprised the John Lewis Partnership has risen to the challenge to help both existing and future employees.”

Felicia Willow, chief executive of the Fawcett Society said that it was “great to see” the partnership supporting working mothers and fathers to look after their children.

“We need more UK business to follow this example and enable both parents to take parental leave,” said Willow. “The expectation that childcare falls to mothers helps the gender pay gap and many other workplace inequalities to thrive.”

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