Next offers 20% pay boost for staff to carry out online orders in stores

Next offers 20% pay boost for staff to carry out online orders in stores
A spokesman for Next said: "A very small number of staff at any one time are required to help with online orders."
// Next offers 20% boost to basic pay for staff who turn up to stores to help with online orders
// Worried staff question this as the government called for all non-essential workers to avoid unnecessary travel
// Next stressed the new arrangements were completely voluntary and no-one was under any obligation

Next is offering staff a 20 per cent boost to their pay if they turn up to stores to help with online orders, despite government orders for fashion shops to close during the coronavirus pandemic.

The fashion retailer is asking workers to travel to temporarily-shuttered sites and pick clothes for online orders “to keep the company operating”, according to a letter seen by the PA news agency.

However, worried staff have questioned whether picking clothes is an “essential” job at the same time the government called for all non-essential workers to avoid unnecessary travel as the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday night that the public “must stay at home” unless they work in a key sector or industry.

This includes some shops such as grocers, pharmacies, pet shops and hardware stores, among others.

While retailers can still trade online, the government is now under pressure to intervene to end the confusion about which businesses can continue to operate.

A letter sent to Next employees on Tuesday evening said: “We need to keep the online business functioning to be certain that Next emerges from this short term crisis.

“To help us, we are looking for a small number of staff to attend work to pick and process the stock in our stores that customers have purchased online and keep the online business going.

“We will only look to achieve this on a voluntary basis.”

Next bosses also laid out a series of measures to ensure social distancing and a clean work space, including limits on the number of people in each store and rules that items are only touched by one person.

“We fully understand that many of you have great concerns about attending work,” the letter read.

“Please let me reassure you that we are in no circumstances going to ask anyone who is unsure about coming to work to do so.”

Many workers in the retail and construction sectors have said they feel they have little choice but to head to work, leading to images of overcrowded trains emerging on social media.

Next said in the letter: “We desperately need your support to keep the company operating and we hugely appreciate your help in this.

“If there are any reasons why you personally feel that it is not appropriate for you to work, we will be understanding.

“For example if you are caring for a vulnerable person at your home, if you cannot manage your childcare, if you cannot travel safely to work, or any other reason.”

Further on, it said: “To show our appreciation, if you attend work you will be paid an additional 20 per cent of your basic rate of pay for all hours worked until Saturday 11th April.

Up until last week, Next was telling staff on its internal systems that the retailer considered its “operations as essential”.

Next chief executive Lord Simon Wolfson said a week ago he wanted the government to step up its efforts to support workers and warned of a hit to the non-food sector not seen since the 1973 oil crisis.

A spokesman for Next told PA: “A very small number of staff at any one time are required to help with online orders.

“This will enable social distancing whilst these tasks are performed.”

The spokesman also stressed the new arrangements were completely voluntary and no-one was under any obligation to turn up to work.

On the retailer’s essential status, he said: “The government has now told us otherwise and before it did, Next had already closed all its stores.”

It comes after Sports Direct faced heavy criticism over its initial attempts to claim to be “essential” in keeping the nation fit during the lockdown.

Bosses later retreated, although not before raising the prices on dozens of exercise products.

with PA Wires

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  1. The greed of the big retailers is plain to see. They should close down operations like all the rest of us. They made 722 million last year. That should be enough to see them through the next few weeks. Along with Sports Direct these companies are putting profits before human safety.

  2. Disgusting approach to a situation most of us have complied with, for Next to ask colleagues to pick on-line orders from within shuttered stores is just profiteering, to say that items will be only touched by one person is ridiculous as most garments on the shop floor will have been tried on or touched by customers before the stores closure, what will they be asking after this, for colleagues to be in-store for returns and the processing of refunds, disgusting behaviour.

  3. As a wife of a hospital worker, a daughter to elderly parents and a severely asthmatic son it is appalling that Next think they can get away with this. While CEO’s sit on extremely excessive wage packets and bonuses they think it’s okay whether voluntarily or forced to put anyone in this position.

  4. This isn’t asbig of a deal. What’s the difference between going to work spreaded out. Earning a wage temporarily. To working in a supermarket or going shopping right now for food. Your more dista ced than at a supermarket. I don’t blame the workers for wanting to help and make sure they have a business to take them back after this pandemic is over. I visited next a week ago and they were the only store I’ve been in with huge bottles of hand sanitiser at the doors. Tissue boxes at their tills and staff in good spirits. There was cleaners going around cleaning hand rails. I haven’t seen that in any other store not even the ones who are allowed to stay open. Each to their own and if staff want to work let them work as long as they are not harming anyone else whats the issue.

  5. Well it is not a choice. We have been told if we choose to stay home or self isolate, we will not get paid. We would have to use our holidays or go for the £94 a week the government is offering. For a family of 3 or more and you’re the main income what choice is there. The government need to stop messing around with words and make it clear to company’s this not a joke.

  6. When are you going to wear these clothes you so call need, At you ⚰️ Funeral Hope this shocks YOU as we are only going to get one chance at this Life..

  7. They are not paying their staff who can’t get to work or don’t have childcare. If you are vulnerable they are telling you that you MUST stay at home but if you have worked there less than a year, you only get the £96 a week SSP and they’ve only committed to paying that for 2 weeks and they are not paying out the government 80% as they said it ‘doesn’t apply’.

  8. Wish people would get their facts straight before they comment. We are getting 80% of our wage. YES I did go into work today. We did work at least 1000ft away from one another massive store approx 8 staff plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes available. All the parcels for collection got addressed and sent out to customers. All the items purchased in sale got picked and packed and sent back to directory to fulfill the orders of our customers. I VOLUNTEERED to do this. Felt completely safe in doing so. Travelled there in my own car. Would like to thank Next it was a pleasure helping you out in a safe environment and fulfilling our customer orders and hopefully safeguarding our jobs in the future. Have also volunteered to help the NHS


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