• Date: 8 March 2017
  • Posted By: admin

Happy Wednesday! On this, International Women’s Day, and of course Philip Hammond’s first Budget, we bring you our choice of the stories since our blog last Wednesday: Sainsbury’s cuts jobs; Bonus blues at John Lewis & Waitrose; Sir Philip to fill Arcadia’s pension hole; and for our general interest picks, we’ve got: International Women’s Day – a warming story; Commission and annual leave to become linked – or will it?; Wellbeing allowances gaining importance.

Sainsbury’s cuts jobs: The supermarket has decided to remove the role of price checker in all its stores. The job does what it says, checks that the prices on the shelves are the right ones: this function is going to be absorbed by other jobs. Given the outcry a few weeks ago over the BBC investigation into Tesco stores still displaying offers that had expired and customers being charged at the higher price without knowing it, Sainsbury’s will need to be very robust when sharing out this responsibility to other jobs. The company has started a 45 days consultation with the unions over these job losses, but it does intends to offer as much redeployment as possible, which it has a good track record of doing. But it doesn’t stop there. It is also stopping nights shifts, so staff will be offered either an early shift or a late one. Which is likely to mean a reduction in hours for many people. We wonder if this is the start of a programme of changes it intends to make in order to improve its performance – as we reported a few weeks ago, if it wasn’t for the Argos sales figures, Sainsbury’s wouldn’t be looking too good so it would make sense for it to find ways of making our 2nd largest supermarket more efficient. There’s more detail about the changes in this article.

Bonus blues at JLP and Waitrose: Apparently, staff at John Lewis and Waitrose will this year get the smallest bonus awarded since the 1950s at just 6% of salary. For people who haven’t had a pay rise or a bonus in some time, this might seem generous and nothing to moan about. But when you consider it was a healthy 17% only 4 years ago, and has been declining year on year since then, it would be understandable if staff were feeling a bit sore about it. Mind you, back in the ’80s it was an eye watering 24%. So why is it going to be relatively small this year? Well, as we’re all very aware, retail trading is extremely turbulent at the moment. And no, it’s not just because of Brexit! There’s been a consistent trend of spending away from retail to more experience based expenditure, such as holidays, activities, eating out. So yes, it’s our fault as customers! In the JLP/Waitrose case, it expects a 10% fall in underlying profits when it reports full year figures for 2016. And as you’ll know from our last couple of blogs, both JLP and Waitrose are now cutting jobs – which is pretty unprecedented. The outlook out there then is pretty bleak at the moment.

Sir Philip to fill Arcadia’s hole: Pension hole that is. Last week, we know he had made a settlement of £363m to the BHS pension fund; and now this week, he’s agreed another settlement with The Pensions Regulator (TPR) to increase the annual contribution to Arcadia’s pension pot from £24.3m per annum to a rumoured £40m. Why? Well, it would seem that a reevaluation process of the pension pot could estimate the pension fund deficit to be as much as £500m. Bit of a double whammy for Sir Philip in as many weeks.

International Women’s Day: An annual day which this year has the theme of ‘Be Bold for Change’. What’s at the heart of this annual event is the equality of women, and providing opportunities as well as pressure to achieve that equality. This is a really heartwarming story that bought a tear to our eye. These elderly women in India have for the last year been going to a school specially set up for them to learn to read. One of them, Ansuya Deshmukh, is 90 years old, and was married at the age of 10. For her generation, opportunities for education were scarce for females. The school was set up by a man – good for him – as he felt strongly that this generation of women had not been given the respect they deserved, and wanted to give them a skill they said they wanted – to be able to read. A gift indeed.

Commission and annual leave to become linked – or will it?: Those of you interested in employment law developments will have been following the British Gas case for the past 5 years – yes 5! It’s gone up the chain from an Employment Tribunal all the way up to the Supreme Court. Well, the Supreme Court has stopped it, refusing to hear the case. And what is the case? It was bought by Mr Lock, an ex-sales consultant for British Gas, who claimed he had been underpaid his holiday pay because it was calculated on his basic salary and not taking account of the commission he would normally earn – it amounted to £1500 for Christmas 2011. So, the victory for Mr Lock stands. Or does it? According to this article, the case was based on the EU Working Time Directive. And if we’re no longer in the EU, this would fall. For a case that’s been dragging on for the past 5 years, wouldn’t it be a shame if that happened?

Wellbeing allowances gaining importance: According to this research, half of those surveyed said that having a wellbeing allowance would be a valued benefit. But equally, the research shows that very few employers (4%) are including this in their benefits packages, despite clear evidence that the wellbeing of our staff is (obviously) directly correlated to how productive they are. What is a wellbeing allowance? Well, for instance, Reward Gateway offers an allowance – called Wellbeing Choice – to its staff as a quarterly allowance, paid through payroll, that is used to make choices from a list of 25 wellbeing-based benefits that support physical, mental and financial health. We think think this is going to get more popular as a benefit, and employers need to get ahead of the game. Perhaps this article will help to get that moving.

That wraps it up for another week. Do come back here again on Wednesday 15th March for more interesting picks of the stories from the next 7 days. Until then, have a good week.