John Lewis offers staff free food at Christmas to help reduce cost of living | UK cost of living crisis

John Lewis is to offer free food to all of its workers, including temporary staff, during its peak Christmas trading period to reduce the cost of living.

Workers in stores, warehouses and its head office will be able to eat breakfast and lunch in staff canteens while those on the road, such as long-distance truck drivers, will be able to order a packed lunch.

The offer, which will run from October 3 to January 6, comes as retailers and other businesses struggle in a tight labor market to hire staff for what could be a tough final quarter of the year as as energy bills, food and gas prices rise. weigh on household budgets.

Benefits include free food, interest-free loans, gift cards, one-time cost-of-living bonuses of up to £2,000 and further discounts on staff purchases. Some hospitals have set up food banks or offer emergency loans to workers struggling to cope while holiday specialist Hays Travel holds a raffle every month; the August winner will see their bills paid for six months.

Union leaders said one-time benefits are no substitute for a pay rise.

Kate Bell, the head of the economy at the TUC, said: ‘Of course workers will take any form of help they can get this winter. But the only real way to give working families security is a decent pay raise.

“One-off support is not enough. We need to raise wages across the economy to end this crisis in living standards.

High levels of employment and Brexit, which has disrupted the flow of workers from the EU, have made it more difficult for companies to recruit temporary staff.

The John Lewis Partnership, which includes high-end grocer Waitrose, is trying to recruit more than 10,000 temporary jobs in the UK this Christmas, including shop assistants, storekeepers and delivery drivers.

Owned by its employees, it is known as one of the highest payers on the high street, offering a minimum of £11.05 an hour in London and £9.90 in the rest of the UK, plus a annual profit-related bonus.

But its prices have become less competitive. The group’s hourly rate in the UK has been overtaken by most large supermarkets which now pay at least £10 an hour.

His annual bonus has also come under pressure, with no payout in 2021 and just 3% – the equivalent of a week and a half’s salary – this year as the group’s profits have been hit by the pandemic and rising costs . The management team, including its chairman, Sharon White, have donated their bonuses to the Red Cross this year, but White earns a base salary of almost £1million.

Christy J. Olson