'You're barking up the wrong tree!': Callers clash over John Lewis' equal parental leave

11 June 2021, 11:06

By Tim Dodd

Two callers argue over John Lewis' announcement that it will give up to 26 weeks of 'equal' parental leave for all employees.

The conversation comes as John Lewis announces equal parental leave will come into force this autumn for staff who have served for a year or more. This gives partners 26 weeks of paid leave - 14 at full pay and 12 at half pay.

Nick Ferrari began by outlining the problem: "John Lewis, a company that the year before made £80 million, the year after that lost £517 million. Isn't that what they had to be addressing?"

Christine in Slough responded to Nick: "Well they are addressing it by using groundbreaking HR policy to keep the family together. I can't believe what you're saying, I swear you belong to the Victorian age? Of going to bloomin' workhouses."

Nick replied: "No, no, you're not listening."

Before he could continue Christine started to respond, at which point Nick attempted to clarify his position seven times - "The business is on its knees!"

Nick then brought in Mick in Chelmsford who disagreed with Christine that equal parental leave is necessary.

"Christine, I've got five children, all been to university, on these grounds I should have 2 and a half years off!"

Christine said: "Don't trivialise something that is very groundbreaking. For young people bringing up their families, it's good to share it and not the women holding the burden all the time."

Mick suggested that if a hypothetical "Tamsin and Tabatha" want to stay home and setup an internet business while John Lewis are keeping their jobs open for them, "that's up to John Lewis".

He continued: "This will become part of the norm. All of the barmy HR and barmy legal people will turn this into a huge event that everybody will need to be seen to want to do or have to do."

"He's barking up the wrong tree," Christine said. "I am talking about what they are doing for new parents, not paying the huge cost of child minding, and at the same time working for the company. The reason why this company has had to close [stores] is because they're not profitable!"

Nick concluded: "Well then giving staff effectively 20 weeks paid leave, you question the wisdom of it."

The move follows a difficult financial year for the retailer which announced the closure of 16 stores earlier this year following coronavirus struggles.