// 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.
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.