John Lewis Partnership becomes the first UK retailer to introduce 26 weeks equal parenthood paid maternity and paternity leave and two weeks paid pregnancy loss leave

The John Lewis Partnership will become the first UK retailer to launch six months’ equal parenthood paid leave and two weeks paid leave for any Partner who experiences the loss of a pregnancy.

These commitments, alongside the start of a pilot programme to provide career help for young people leaving the care system, are part of a new package of support for Partners (employees), who jointly co-own the business.

Informed by feedback from Partners who shared what mattered most to them, these commitments support the company’s vision to become the UK’s most inclusive business for our Partners and customers, reflecting and connecting with the diverse communities we serve.

Equality is a founding principle of the Partnership, which was formed almost 100 years ago and supported through the company’s unique employee-owned business structure and written Constitution. These new commitments are a stride forward in redefining the Partnership’s responsibility to this principle and what it means to their Partners in today’s society.

The support announced, which forms part of the Partnership Plan, includes equal parental pay and leave, pregnancy loss support, flexible first commitment, part-time working, supporting young people leaving the care system, supporting ethic minorities, and inclusion committee.

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.”

Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP and Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee said: “The recent work of the Women and Equalities Committee has highlighted a number of areas in which employers can really help. This announcement from the John Lewis Partnership has shown them to be really leading the way in making sure their Partners are supported, with a commitment to flexible working, equal maternity and paternity paid leave and baby loss leave. All initiatives will make a real difference.

“The pandemic has been particularly hard for families juggling all sorts of different demands and pressures and I am pleased but not surprised the John Lewis Partnership has risen to the challenge to help both existing and future employees.

Felicia Willow, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said: “It’s great to see the John Lewis Partnership supporting working mothers and fathers to look after their children. We need more UK business to follow this example and enable both parents to take parental leave. The expectation that childcare falls to mothers helps the gender pay gap and many other workplace inequalities to thrive.

“It’s also encouraging to see the John Lewis Partnership making a clear commitment to advertise all vacancies with a flexible working option. This proves that despite the Employment Bill being delayed, there is no reason businesses can’t step up and put in place policies that will improve gender equality in the workplace.”

Jacqui Clinton, who directs Tommy’s corporate Pregnancy and Parenting at Work service, said: “Baby loss at any stage in pregnancy is one of the most heart-breaking things any family can experience – and one that’s endured all too frequently, but often quietly, because of persistent stigma in society. It’s fantastic to see companies acknowledging this impact and tackling this taboo by creating dedicated leave policies; this will help anyone who’s struggling to reach out, and to feel confident and supported in doing so.”

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