// M&S gives staff 15% additional pay reward for working on the frontline in food stores
// M&S also confirms furloughed staff will receive full pay
// Separately, it temporarily added branded items to maintain “strong availability” during pandemic
Marks & Spencer has announced a 15 per cent pay rise for shop floor staff working on the frontline in its food stores, and confirmed that furloughed staff will receive full pay.
The retailer said that staff across its stores and supply chain who continue to work will receive their additional pay reward “in recognition of the work they are doing to support their teams and the national effort to help customers access the products they need” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, M&S temporarily suspended its clothing and home store operations and closed outlet stores, while its food and online businesses remain open.
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As a result, M&S said it would continue to pay staff who have been affected by the temporary store closures.
It added that its furloughing arrangement is voluntary, meaning food store colleagues who are carers or who feel more vulnerable are able to step away.
“Any colleague who is furloughed for the coming weeks will do so on full pay,” M&S said in a statement.
M&S reiterated its commitment to full pay staff who need to self-isolate for seven to 14 days, and highlighted that staff who are pregnant, over 70 or with the health conditions specified by the Department of Health, are already on leave for 12 weeks on full pay.
Meanwhile, the retailer is rolling out plastic face shields for staff working on the frontline this week.
M&S said that staff who opt to wear one would have “their own personal face shield” and in a retail environment these would be preferable to the disposable clinical masks since they are easy to clean and do not lead to unnecessary face touching from regular adjustments.
The plastic face shields are in addition to the protective plastic screens which are being installed on checkouts across the UK.
“M&S fully supports the government’s efforts to protect our NHS and save lives,” M&S retail and operations director Sacha Berendji said.
“We are actively encouraging social distancing in our foodhalls, and have already introduced a number of measures to help colleagues stay healthy and enable customers to shop for the essentials they need with confidence – from floor markings to the introduction of sneeze guards at till points.
“The latest measure is the introduction of reusable face shields, which will be distributed to our hard working teams this week.”
Separately, M&S temporarily added a number of branded items to its ranges in a bid to maintain a “strong availability” during the pandemic.
M&S’s food business usually stocks own-brand grocery items, but its addition of branded items will help maintain the availability core cupboard staples.
The retailer also emulated grocery chains by confirming that smaller food suppliers will have access immediate payments during coronavirus crisis.
“Like all retailers, we’re working to play our part in feeding the nation and ensuring that our customers can continue to buy the products they need for their families,” M&S food managing director Stuart Machin said.
“We’d like to thank every one of our incredible suppliers – from our farmers, growers and manufacturers to our packers, processors and logistics providers – for working tirelessly to support us all during these unprecedented times.”