Sainsbury’s has proposed restructuring the way it pays supermarket staff to trump discount rival Aldi’s market-leading national rate of £8.85 per hour.
It is investing more than £100m in store staff this year to take the base national rate of pay from £8ph to £9.20ph from September this year.
Staff working in most London boroughs will see pay increase from £8.51 an hour to £9.80. Aldi pays £10.20 to London employees.
The supermarket group has proposed contractual changes with the new pay rates for all 130,000 store staff to ensure “consistency and fairness” across all stores, regardless of age or length of service.
It intends to streamline 22 specific roles to five broader job titles: trading assistant, food services assistant, online assistant, general merchandising & clothing assistant, and services assistant.
A spokeswoman said the changes would ensure staff were always in the right place at the right time for customers.
Premium payments, such as for bank holidays, would be changed. “For example we are proposing one premium for everyone working between midnight and 5am so they will be paid an additional £2.20 for any hours they work between those times,” the spokeswoman said.
Colleague bonuses and paid breaks will be removed. The bonuses are non-guaranteed performance-related rewards.
The group acknowledged that “a small proportion” of staff might be adversely impacted, but it proposed making top-up payments for 18 months to ensure none earned less than they currently did.
“The retail sector has never been more competitive and we know our customers really value our colleagues and the excellent service they provide in our shops.
This was why the grocer thought it was “so important to invest further in staff so they felt rewarded and motivated to do the best possible job,” said Sainsbury’s retail & operations director Simon Roberts.
“Together with our recent proposals to change our management structure in stores, we believe the proposed changes will set us up to run the best shops in the industry, delivering the best possible service for our customers.”
Sainsbury’s will begin consulting on the changes today, with a view to implementation from September.
Shopworkers union Usdaw welcomed the announcement which it said made Sainsbury’s the first major supermarket to pay more than £9 (national rate).
Joanne McGuinness, the union’s national officer, said Usdaw had long been making the case for the real living wage and beyond, and this deal took Sainsbury’s staff 45p an hour above that £8.75 rate.
“While this is welcome news for Usdaw members working in Sainsbury’s, we will be looking closely at the whole deal as we understand the company are proposing some contractual changes. Consolidating pay can benefit staff, but we want to check the effects on all individual workers. We will now enter into talks with the company.”