“We want to maintain the ethos and ethics of Lush and we want to recognise that the company is all about the people who are in it.” - Company director Karl Bygrave
With a new year, comes a renewed commitment from company founders to put better initiatives in place to care for Lush staff. The exciting announcement, made at first to staff at the 2017 Lush Summit, includes the implementation of a living wage, improved parental pay schemes and the development of a Lush employee benefit scheme.
After adopting a living wage for retail staff working in London in 2011, Lush has now extended that wage to retail and manufacturing employees across the UK. The decision came after months of behind the scenes work from directors and founders, in response to calls from the staff for extra financial help as the cost of living rises. The resulting increase in hourly pay from £7.40 to £8.45 will equate to a £2,184 increase per year for a full time member of staff working 40 hours a week.
Global Finance Director Kim Coles paid tribute to employee passion, stating: “We are delighted to be making this announcement to our lovely, dedicated and enthusiastic staff. It is thanks to all their hard work that we have been able to make this commitment.”
Staff members happy to have had their concerns addressed have also been responding to the news. Artworker Adam Frame, who previously worked as a parcel dispatcher in the Poole-based manufacturing department explains: “Manufacturing is the heart of the Lush business but it's very easy for these people to go unnoticed with regards to how hard they work and the extra miles they go to so customers get the best quality products.
“Raising the living wage in the manufacturing department will mean staff have a better idea of overall pay, as fluctuating monthly bonuses meant people weren't sure on what they'd be living on month to month. Working for such a great company comes with the sacrifice of living in an expensive area, but with a raise like this people can comfortably live, commute and enjoy the beautiful south coast that we live on.”
Lush social channel manager Lex Brookman who previously worked as a sales assistant in Lush Southampton, is also excited about the impact the increase will have on retail staff. She says, “Up until very recently, I was being paid by the hour on the shop floor. Retail staff measure their expenses by hours of pay. No, sorry I can't come for a drink that's almost an hour’s worth of pay. That pair of jeans is worth four hours’ pay. Thank God, for people like Lush who understand that the faces that customers see everyday need to love coming work.”
Meanwhile, Lush Spa Poole sales assistant, social media executive and mum of one Megan Christopher says the new pay increase will be incredibly welcome to working parents. “The new living wage means for me, as a single parent, that I can breathe again. It means that I won't be providing 'just enough' to get us by, and opens a few more doors for us. It also means that a full-time career in Lush is now possible and that's hugely exciting for me, because I can now afford to be here.”
Sales Assistant at Lush Preston Gabrielle Dawkins adds, “I'm just about to finish my degree and with this raise I will be able to comfortably afford a deposit on a new flat for when I leave student accommodation. It's such a relief to know I'll be graduating and have a job that will support me while I’m still aiming to broaden my career at Lush!”
Director of the Living Wage Foundation Katherine Chapman hopes that Lush’s commitment to paying the living wage will encourage other retailers to do the same. She says, “Having Lush – an established and forward thinking retailer with such a strong high street presence accredit with the Living Wage Foundation is really significant because it shows that paying a fair wage in the retail sector isn’t just achievable it makes business sense too.
“At a time when some large businesses are even falling short of their legal obligations around pay it is important to recognise those fantastic employers who are choosing to go further and pay a real Living Wage. I hope other household retail names will be encouraged to follow the lead taken by Lush so that more and more people can make a Living Wage choice at the checkout.
A groundbreaking retail commitment to support working parents has also been welcomed enthusiastically by staff. The new policy, which includes six months of paid maternity leave, four weeks of paid paternity leave and 20 hours per week of childcare funding 46 weeks of the year for full time working parents until government help kicks in, is described by Lush co-founder Mark Constantine as “the bit I’m most proud of”.
He continues: “You suddenly realise how much you’ve been asking for people to pursue their careers when so much of their money is going to disappear. It’s a big deal because it’s going to cost a lot of money to go back to work. People who want to come back to work who are very focused on their careers just can’t justify it.”
Global finance director Kim Coles explains that the work going into the scheme came after research showed that childcare in the UK was 40.9% of the average wage. She says, “We have to ask how can we support people so they have enough valuable time off with a new person in their life? You have people who have invested so much of their lives in the business, and who you’ve trained and invested in, who suddenly aren’t able to come back.”
European pay and benefits manager Aaron Mudd was also motivated by his personal experience in a previous company to champion the scheme: “When my wife and I had my first child, our first two weeks were spent in hospital. When you have to go back to work when your wife and child have only just come out of hospital that doesn’t feel like enough family time. So we did a lot of research and tried to look at a global policy around it. But some countries support it without us having to get involved.”
Their response, Kim explains, was to implement an initial scheme in the UK and Ireland which would support new and working parents. “There are really two sides to this: one is about supporting parents with new babies and then the second is how we can encourage them to come back to work and give them the support they need. We are going to be paying six months' full maternity pay, four weeks’ full paternity pay, and going to fund 20 hours per week of childcare for 46 weeks (until the age of three when government schemes provide help) for those returning to full-time work.”
The policies will play an important part in supporting new parents and those coming back to work after maternity leave. Front end developer Tim Stone, who is preparing for the arrival of his second baby in March 2017, emphasises the impact that additional paternity leave will have on his family. “Being given the opportunity to take four weeks with my second child will help with both bonding with my baby and supporting my partner as we continue on life’s greatest adventure! I remember thinking that neither of us were prepared for me to go back to work after two weeks with our first but four weeks will allow us to adjust and settle into our new family rhythm.”
Lush founders and directors have also announced the development of an exciting employee benefit trust for employees, promising further details to follow. Company director Karl Bygrave states: “We want to maintain the ethos and ethics of Lush and we want to recognise that the company is all about the people who are in it. The shareholders had a vote and we decided that we would put 10% of the company into a employee benefit trust for the benefit of employees. What we’re about is maintaining the longevity of Lush. We think that maintaining our independence is really important.”
Co-founder Mark explained that the move will enable staff who are passionate about Lush to safeguard the future of the company, saying: “As we get older the issue of what happens to our shares gets more important. We wanted something that would stop us having a bad ending. So on behalf of all of us, thank you very much.”