John Lewis group extends sabbatical scheme to over 50s

Department store group John Lewis Partnership is investing an extra £1m in a scheme that gives long-serving employees a six-month paid sabbatical.

Since 1979, staff at John Lewis and Waitrose who have contributed 25 years of continuous service before the age of 50 have been entitled to 26 weeks of ‘long leave’.

But, in response to forthcoming age discrimination legislation and recognising that many loyal employees now join the group as second or third jobbers rather than straight from school or college, the retailer is to extend its £4.8m scheme to include the over-50s.

Paul Backhouse, head of personnel policy and benefits at John Lewis, said: “By the year 2010, 40% of the workforce will be over 45 and it is important to offer incentives that appeal to this group.

“We recognise that our staff often return to work with a fresh perspective and new found confidence, which can generate career progression or even changes in direction for those already well-established within the business.”

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