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John Lewis will allow any parent to take six months’ paid leave under a new equal parental leave policy.
The John Lewis Partnership has become the first UK retailer to launch an equal parental leave policy as well as a policy for paid leave for pregnancy loss.
The policies are part of a package, which includes a pilot programme to provide career help for young people leaving the care system and came about as a result of feedback from employees who John Lewis, an employee-owned business, call partners.
The policy on equal parental pay and leave will start from the autumn. All partners, 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% contractual pay) once they have worked for the partnership for one year.
Those who experience pregnancy loss will not only get two weeks’ paid leave, but will have access to emotional support through free counselling and mental health services.
Moreover, all job vacancies will be advertised with a flexible working option, unless there is an operational reason why this is not possible. Office-based partners will be offered hybrid working from this month.
John Lewis also says that it has identified more ways to support part-time partners progress. This includes changes to the company’s flexible working policy and reviewing its recruitment processes.
The pilot programme to support young people leaving care into employment will be done with Essex County Council and will include coaching and mentoring and interview practice as well as ongoing coaching and mentoring once a role has been secured. John Lewis is also expanding its reverse mentoring scheme, where ethnic minority partners from across the partnership mentor senior leaders.
And the company is also creating an Inclusion Committee, which will launch in the summer and include external advisers who have strong diversity and inclusion experience. The committee will help accelerate and scrutinise the delivery of John Lewis’ plans to be a more inclusive business that welcomes and celebrates diversity.
Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “As an employee-owned business, equality matters to us. 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.
“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.”