John Lewis staff angered over senior bonuses

John Lewis Partnership
Staff said more than 1000 comments about the bonuses have been posted on the group’s intranet
// John Lewis Partnership faces criticism from own workforce after paying bonuses to senior staff
// The group made almost 4000 “special contribution” awards last year

John Lewis Partnership managers have reportedly faced backlash by their own workforce after paying bonuses to senior staff at a time when the company is announcing redundancies.

The group made almost 4000 “special contribution” awards last year, which are permitted under its constitution for exceptional service and capped at 10 per cent of basic salary.

Just 16 of those went to directors and heads of department, and none to the executive team, which has angered some shop floor workers, Financial Times reported.


READ MORE: John Lewis charters ships to make sure Christmas stock arrives on time


The annual “partnership bonus”, a percentage of salary paid each March to all staff dependent on group financial performance, was slashed during the pandemic for the first time since 1953.

Staff said more than 1000 comments about the bonuses have been posted on the group’s intranet, some pointing out that many hourly-paid employees worked in public-facing roles at the height of the pandemic while managers were more likely to work from home.

John Lewis Partnership executive director for people, Nikki Humphrey responded in a video that the company has not assuaged the ill feeling and the partnership council, elected by staff to hold management to account, will discuss the issue at a meeting on Thursday. Robust debate over pay, conditions and strategy.

John Lewis, which operates the Waitrose supermarket chain as well its namesake stores, paid a £200 bonus to 55,000 store staff last year in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic.

Its executive directors also took a 20 per cent pay cut for three months last year.

John Lewis said the average award for the 16 senior managers was £12,281, rather than a rumoured £20,000, and that the vast majority of the payments went to front-line staff.

It also said that 81 per cent of staff already receive the voluntary real living wage “and we’ve committed to pay it to everyone when our profits recover to £200 million”.

Some John Lewis employees, working with the campaign group Organise, have called for it to be paid immediately.

John Lewis chair Sharon White has also pledged to restore the partnership bonus once profits clear £200 million and debt has fallen.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Not very ‘Partnership’ thing to do, it seems to me. Maximum 10% caps giving a £12k ‘ish bonus on salaries at and above £120k to the exclusion of managers and staff at a lower level. In my near 50 years of retail, JLP has always been an exemplar for fairness in retail. This is disappointing.

  2. Why am I not surprised? The lack of in depth retail experience right across the very top team is shown up by their continual ability to take decisions without thinking through the consequences. If your key “sales floor” team aren’t behind you, you won’t achieve the necessary recovery.

  3. Not the best way to achieve Principle 1, which encompasses the happiness of Partners. I hope the Partnership Council has some Councillors who will robustly challenge the senior team.
    If these payments were given under the Reward & Recognition scheme, then there will be evidence of the who, what, when, how and why the award was given. But as the report seems to indicate the bonus went just to senior management, it needs to be justified.

  4. Not just a big fat bonuses, it recently censored partners too who were wanting to discuss equal rights in Israel.

    One of the staff in the local store near me told me that staff members were sacked over supporting Palestinian people and that the entire executive team banned people.

    As a Palestine supporter I told everyone about this and we are all disgusted. It’s no longer the company it used to be.

    • I have never heard of this incident at all – as a company, John Lewis requests a non-political stance on these things, whilst working for the company, so I would be grateful if we could stick to known facts and not spread unfair rumours, as we don’t actually know what exactly happened at the Waitrose. Rest assured I am pretty sure Waitrose would not sack someone simply for their political views – there must have been more to that story than you know.
      Everyone is perfectly entitled to hold views about any political situation, so while I sympathise with the pro-Palestine view, this has nothing to do with the SCB payments we are discussing here

      • No other reason other than the executive team demanded removals, possibly under pressure. The staff said that people were sacked for calling Israel an apartheid (which it is) and then some Jewish partners accused them of antisemitism.

        Berangere Michel, Sharon White and other members of the board removed the posts and launched a purge.

        John Lewis should hang its head in shame. This company is ridiculous. I will keep telling everyone on what the staff have told me and given its my store for years I believe every word.

  5. Customer service has gone to the wall too. I was badly burnt after the handle on a smeg kettle broke off when pouring boiling water. I was reimbursed for the cost of the kettle but offered nothing in compensation, in fact they did everything to wriggle out of it. Have shopped for 40 years with J.Lewis, but no more. Management are arrogant and appalling, no customer care, the bedrock on which they were founded, and now no care for the hard workers. I thought they were partners? So why aren’t they being treated equally? For my issue I’m now going through a suing claim & will never shop there again. In my opinion Sharon White & Pippa Wickes need to be replaced with management that understand the long standing ethos of John Lewis. Let’s hope that happens before these ‘fat cats’ cause more destruction and bad feeling. So sad.

  6. Everyone who worked though pandemic should get a bonus not just for some people.it used to a partnership but not now.I feel sorry for the staff that are not appreciated.like they used to be.happy staff make happy shoppers.

  7. Not surprised not a partnership just the same as any other business you are deluded if believe the hype about staff being partners , they use the term partners to try to make customers believe the are dealing with a compassionate business.

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