sainsburys coronavirus customer staff masks

Sainsbury’s is boosting the hourly pay of around 127,000 employees as part of a swathe of benefits aimed at helping workers better cope amid the cost of living crisis.

From February, hourly pay will rise from £10.25 to £11, and £11.30 to £11.95 in London for frontline Sainsbury’s and Argos workers.

The latest raise comes just months after the supermarket hiked hourly pay to the current levels in October, and takes its total investment in pay increases to £205m over the past year, the supermarket said. 

“It’s our job to support our colleagues as they face rising costs,” said Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts. “This is a massive investment that reflects the real challenges our people are facing right now.”

The grocer is also extending the provision of free food during shifts and giving workers enhanced discounts to buy Argos and Sainsbury’s products. Sainsbury’s would fund the benefits through its Save to Invest programme, it said. 

Execs across the grocery sector are under growing pressure to do more to protect their colleagues against soaring energy costs and inflation. Latest figures from the BRC and Nielsen show that annual food inflation jumped 13.3% in December, up from 12.4% in November.

Sainsbury’s said it had brought forward its annual pay review by a month to ensure it could “best support” colleagues with rising living costs. The new pay levels represented a 10% increase year on year, it added.

Usdaw national officer Dave Gill said the increases made a “significant difference” to union members. “With the cost of living continually rising, we have kept open our dialogue with Sainsbury’s and we are pleased the business has responded so positively,” he said.

Sainsbury’s new minimum hourly rate puts it on par with Aldi’s commitment to pay store workers no less than £11 an hour as part of an increase that came into effect on 1 January.

Lidl, Tesco, Asda and M&S are among those to have also offered hourly pay increases over the past year.