British retailer John Lewis has announced it will be offering all of its workers free food over the busy Christmas trading period – including temporary staff.
From 3 October 2022 through to 6 January 2023, workers in the company’s stores, warehouses, head office or Waitrose supermarkets will be able to get free breakfasts, lunches, and dinners from staff canteens depending on how long their shift is.
Someone working a four-hour shift will be offered one meal, while someone working an eight-hour shift will be offered two.
Those working ‘on the road’, such as long-distance lorry and delivery drivers, will be offered a pre-packed lunch. Any staff member working in a smaller, convenience location will be offered options like Waitrose sandwiches or salads.
The move is an attempt by the company to mitigate some of the effects of the cost-of-living crisis. Inflation has already hit 10.1% this summer, and economists are expecting this figure to increase dramatically in the coming winter months.
Food is among the biggest drivers of inflation currently. Latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show prices in shops rose by 5.1% in August – the highest level for food inflation since the 2008 financial crash.
The news of John Lewis’s support package comes as the retailer looks to recruit 10,000 temporary workers over the festive period.
Some 6,000 roles will be advertised for Waitrose and John Lewis shops, starting from September.
A further 4,000 will be offered for supply chain work, such as warehouse operatives, and delivery drivers – these will be advertised through recruitment agencies, the company has confirmed.
While these positions – which will be eligible for free food alongside permanent John Lewis workers – will be a welcome opportunity this winter, it is likely they will absorb many unemployed workers of independent shops which may have to close because of rising business costs.
According to a survey conducted by the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) of its members, 65% said they would be forced to reduce the number of staff on their books given the rising cost of energy.
Understand what rising inflation means for the food industry with this episode of the Food Matters Live Podcast: