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Smiths City changes its tune on wages and benefits

  • News
  • July 24, 2018
  • The Register team
Smiths City changes its tune on wages and benefits

Just a few months after national furniture and appliance retailer Smiths City was forced to compensate staff for unpaid meetings dating back 15 years by the Employment Court, the retailer has announced a new programme of staff benefits that includes a commitment to matching the living wage.

In May this year, the Employment Court ordered Smiths City to pay its staff for daily 15-minute sales meetings. The meetings had been part of the culture of every store for at least the last 15 years, and all sales staff on duty that morning were expected to attend without pay. 

The company claimed the meetings were optional, but the Employment Court’s decision highlighted an expectationthat staff should attend.

Smiths Citys was forced to issue back-pay going back six years, costing it around 1.5 million.

Today, Smiths City released an announcement that it would celebrate its 100thanniversary with a new commitment to staff wellbeing. Staff will now receive:

  • An extra of paid holiday as a one-off gift to celebrate the Smiths City centenary.
  • An annual ‘wellbeing’ day to be taken from sick leave entitlements.
  • From 1 October 2018, hourly wages which at least match the 2018 estimate of the living wage. Currently, this is $20.55 per hour.

“Smiths City’s success turns on its team - from those on the shop floor through to those in the support centre and the people in the warehouse - being focussed on a single goal: helping our customers to live better,” says chief executive Roy Campbell.

To strengthen staff commitment to this message, Campbell says, Smiths City is working to further develop its culture.

“We want our staff to be enthusiastic and excited about their work; to feel that they are benefitting personally from working at Smiths City; and that they are learning new skills and gaining the experience to develop an enduring and prosperous career with the organisation and in the retail sector.

“Fundamental to the development of this culture is paying Smiths City people fairly for a fair day’s work. Our people should not come to work worrying about whether they have enough to put food on the table, pay the rent and the power bill and meet their basic needs. 
 

“For these reasons we have now committed to paying our staff at a rate that is at least aligned with the living wage. This commitment also builds on our practice of offering all staff an opportunity to undertake nationally-recognised qualifications.”

Campbell says this move to align pay rates with the living wage will not have a material impact on Smiths City’s financial result.

Smiths City has been approached for comment.

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