Benefits boost | Marks & Spencer announces biggest ever investment in pay & family leave policies

Marks & Spencer announces biggest ever investment in pay & family leave policies

Marks & Spencer has announced a record £89m investment in its retail pay offer, and a further £5million annual investment to enhance its maternity, paternity, and adoption policies.

From 1 April, the rate of pay for UK Customer Assistants (approximately 40,000 colleagues) will increase from £10.90 to £12.00 per hour, representing a 10.1% increase on last year and a 26.3% increase since March 2022. For a full-time colleague, that’s an increase of around £180 per month compared to today’s current rate.

For Customer Assistants working in London, the hourly rate will increase from £12.05 to £13.15, representing a 9.1% increase on last year.

For UK Team Support Managers, the hourly rate will increase from £12.20 to £13.05, while for those in London, it will increase from £13.35 to £14.20.

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This investment means that since March 2022, M&S has invested more than £146m in its overall retail pay package. It also means that every UK store colleague will be paid the Real Living Wage as their base pay, with M&S’s wide range of benefits – such as its industry-leading 20% colleague discount – on top of that.

The retailer’s leading benefits package includes:

  • An uncapped 20% colleague discount across all M&S branded food, clothing and home products – and from 25 March this will be extended to all branded products too.

  • An industry-leading pension contribution of up to 12%.

  • The opportunity to participate in colleague Sharesave schemes.

  • Life cover of up to 4x salary.

  • Access to a 24/7 virtual GP service and employee assistance programme for colleagues and their wider family.

  • Free eye tests at M&S Opticians.

  • Access to six free physiotherapy sessions.

  • Further benefits to support health and wellbeing, including Check4Cancer support and risk assessments for the top five most common cancers in the UK – with free screenings for colleagues at higher risk.

  • Neonatal Leave of up to 12 weeks’ fully paid leave for any UK colleague whose baby requires specialist neonatal care, without having to worry about using up their maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

  • Support for colleagues experiencing menopause, as well as uniform and specialist line manager training.

As well as investing in pay for store colleagues, M&S is also making substantial improvements to its maternity, paternity, and adoption policies as it continues to invest in making M&S a great place to work for families:

Coming into effect on 1st April, M&S will be one of the first retailers to introduce six weeks’ paternity leave at full pay, while also doubling its maternity and adoption leave to 26 weeks – also at full pay – equating to a £5 million investment annually.

Last year, M&S was also one of the first retailers to introduce a Neonatal Leave Policy that provides up to 12 weeks’ fully paid leave to any UK colleague whose baby requires specialist neonatal care, without having to worry about using up their maternity, paternity, or adoption leave.

Investing in new family leave policies is part of M&S’ commitment to providing more support and flexibility to its colleagues so they don’t miss out on the moments that really matter. Last year, M&S introduced a new flexible working offering – called Worklife – with the aim of helping colleagues achieve a better work/life balance.

Through the programme, more than 3,000 Retail Managers have additional flexible working options to choose from including spreading their hours over five days, working a four-day compressed week or a nine-day compressed fortnight. In addition, all colleagues have access to a Job Share Finder platform that enables them to connect with potential job share matches.

Last year M&S was awarded Menopause Friendly Accreditation by Henpicked and in 2022, M&S launched a dedicated fertility treatment policy – giving colleagues up to 10 days off to attend appointments for up to three rounds of fertility treatment.

Stuart Machin, Chief Executive, said: “Our vision is to be the most trusted retailer - and that starts with being the most trusted employer. That’s why today we’re making our biggest ever investment in our retail pay offer to recognise our colleagues for the vital role they play each day. It means that since March 2022, we’ve invested more than £146m in our retail pay offer and increased our standard hourly rate by more than 26%.

“But creating a great place to work isn’t just about pay; it’s about the overall package and colleagues feeling valued and able to be their best. That’s why, in addition to our pay increase, I’m delighted to announce some significant improvements to our family leave policies to support colleagues through life’s big moments.”

Retailers stepping up pay & benefits

M&S’ announcement comes not long after another retailer announced sweeping improvements to its pay and benefits for staff.

Earlier this year, supermarket chain Lidl announced a third pay rise in the space of 12 months, a move which will see its 26,000 hourly-paid colleagues have their wages boosted.

From March 1, the discount retailer’s entry level rates will increase from £11.40 to £12.00 outside of the M25, rising to £13.00 with length of service.

Meanwhile, those working within the M25 will see pay rates rise from £12.85 to £13.55, increasing to £13.85 over time. These new entry level rates will be up to 17% higher than the National Minimum Wage being introduced in April.

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The move represents an investment of over £37 million and includes increases for salaried colleagues across the business. The firm said the investment follows record trading and market share gains over the Christmas period for Lidl.

Lidl’s pay rise announcement follows closely after another recent announcement of improved workplace benefits packages for its employees. On January 1, the business increased its paid Maternity and Adoption Leave, with colleagues now benefiting from over six months of full-pay, up from 14 weeks. The company says the move will not only support parents, but also set a new benchmark for others in the industry to follow.

Lidl also announced that it will be introducing paid leave for those undergoing fertility treatment, entitling colleagues to two full days of paid leave per treatment cycle, with no limit to the number of cycles within which a colleague can avail of the policy.

Meanwhile, recognising the significant impact of pregnancy loss, bosses have also introduced five days of paid leave for anyone affected by pregnancy loss prior to 24 weeks, inclusive of partners.

Alongside its family-focused updates, Lidl expanded its Compassionate Leave policy, increasing paid leave to five days.

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