Waitrose hits back at claims it stopped paying overtime because of the national living wage

Waitrose has denied that the changes were linked to the national living wage

Hazel Sheffield
Monday 18 April 2016 14:11
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Waitrose has hit back at claims that a decision to stop paying new workers overtime and Sunday rates is linked to the national living wage.

The supermarket arm of the John Lewis partnership has stopped overtime pay or higher rates on Sundays for staff hired after February 1, 2016 after it looked at the market and realised that competitors were not offering similar benefits.

It denied that the changes were linked to the national living wage, which raised hourly pay by 50p from 6.70 per hour to £7.20 an hour on April 1.

"Premium payments are no longer a feature of the market we compare pay rates to and we planned these changes before National Living Wage was announced," a spokeswoman for Waitrose said.

Tesco, B&Q, Next and Whitbread are some of the multimillion pound firms who have reduced costs, though none have said the decision was linked to the living wage.

Tesco has said it will pay staff £7.62, more than the living wage. But it reportedly cut overtime time pay six weeks ago by changing it from double to one-and-a-half times the usual wage for unregular hours.

A spokesperson told the Independent that Tesco does still pay time and a half for night shifts, Sundays and bank holidays.

Not all economists agree that the living wage will help the worst off.

“I think it is going to be a threat. There are going to be job losses,” Sir Christopher Pissarides, who was awarded the Nobel prize for economics in 2010, told the Independent.

About 60,000 jobs could go by 2020 as retailers count the cost of higher staff wages, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

B&Q, meanwhile, are reportedly offsetting the living wage increase by losing double pay on Sundays and bank holidays, though a spokesman said staff would take home more overall.

“Our people are very important to us and B&Q is committed to being a good payer and remaining so in future. The majority of our employees will be unaffected or better off," the spokesman said.

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