Employees at Asda have been offered a pay rise to in return for giving up their paid breaks and bank holidays. Under the new contracts they will be paid at £8.50 per hour and employees will be able to work in different departments on different days that suit their personal circumstances.
In addition to these changes, shifts deemed to be unsocial have been cut by three hours but the extra pay for these hours will be increased. These changes have been approved by the GMB union who are satisfied with Asda’s claim that this will help 95% of their staff. General Secretary Tim Roache has stated that;
“These new flexible contracts will help to ensure job security, ensure those accepting them are on the same terms and - best of all - ensure that people will earn more money as a result”
There are some, however, that believe this as a way of mitigating the costs of the National Living Wage increase, with employers giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Examples of this include when companies like Tesco and Morrison reduced overtime rates, meal deals and enhanced weekend and evening working. When justifying these changes Asda pointed to the increased hourly rate and the subsequent rise in employer’s national insurance and pension contributions.
The Living Wage Foundation has welcomed Asda’s changes but has said that they need to do more to move towards the ‘real’ living wage of £8.45 UK wide and £9.75 in London.
The National Living Wage was increased to by 30p to £7.50 on the 1st April 2017.