The Smell of Bullshit, part 50: fair trade is great, but what about fair pay?

I received the following email from a Lush employee

I just thought I would email in regards to the Lush rate of pay. You may have seen some of the Lush Buying videos or read some of the self-congratulatory bits in the Fresh Matters about the pride the founders and the buying team get from being able to ensure that they are paying a fair price for ingredients supplied by workers across the world who it’s fair to say aren’t exactly in financially secure situations.

I work in a store and have to say it’s a shame that Mark Constantine does not have the same want or drive to ensure that his retail work force are fairly paid, though. Apart from the staff at the London stores, who are the only retail staff members to be paid the Living Wage. In this article, published on 20th April 2011, Mark states that “It’s about fairness and good business practice”, that staff work better when they aren’t worrying about rent, that he “takes pride in being an ethical retailer”. I wonder why then, that nearly three years on, it is only the London staff that are being paid this Living Wage?

The wages are a sore point amongst retail staff. People at head office are paid a lot better but I have no doubt, are still taken for granted and still struggle. On 5th March 2012, there was a 139 comment post about how shocking the wages were. Genuine bonafide comments:
We had a letter from our local council asking that we pay a basic living wage that amounts to more than my trainee’s wage. As a manager on half what the biggest store managers are paid, I would LOVE to see our pay go up. I don’t have any issue with London workers being paid a higher wage – it is incredibly expensive to live there. I do object to us paying minimum wage to very highly-trained, adaptable, committed staff, and paying manager so poorly they’re living in rent poverty”.
“This is the only job I’ve ever had where you get paid nothing extra for working boxing day/xmas eve. and I’ve had some shoddy jobs.
We have lost several amazing members of staff since i have been with our shop, due to being offered better pay/realising they have to find better pay…”
Our company prides itself on its values; The value of our products, the value of our ingredients, the values we operate and live by. I, for one, feel under-valued. This is not about earning more money, this is an issue of fairness. Considering this is often such a lively public forum, with weigh-ins from all factions of the company, comment from anyone from HO has been oddly scarce. I await their input”
I have always believed that Lush was so much more than this, it’s just rather disappointing to know that I am just a Sales staff and I can of course be easily replaced by some new young thing who would probably only be part of the company for a couple of years and then go off to get a ‘proper’ job.”

After nearly 100 comments, our lord of the delusions Mark Constantine chimes in….
“It is constantly under review”.

Wages for sales assistants thankfully did go up roughly three months afterwards meaning that we were on 25p above minimum wage, which we still are. Anyone who has ever been a committed Lush employee in a store knows that this is still not a reflection of the abilities, skill and duties expected of us. Take childrens parties for example. Do you think Lush retail assistants are paid any extra for switching job roles at the end of the day and essentially being a childrens entertainer for an hour and a half, after trading hours when their friends are getting ready to socialise and watch TV? It was bad enough when these were just encouraged to happen on Sundays, but now head office is encouraging us to fit time in after Saturday closing time and also during trading hours if we can, to the detriment of actual customers looking to browse in the shop peacefully at that time! Do you think staff in larger stores are paid any extra for staying past 11/12pm to do stocktakes? Do you think we are paid extra for coming in early on Boxing Day to put up the Boxing Day Sale window? In fact, do you think we are paid any extra for working Boxing Day? No.

In a Lush Staff Room facebook post dated 14th May 2013 in a conversation about Lush paying the Living Wage to only the London staff, a staff member shared that after bills and rent, she plainly didn’t have the money to eat anything other than cheap frozen food and that her manager treated her to some nice food. 29 staff members liked this post.
Other comments:
“So, more importantly, why aren’t we paid the living wage?” (38 likes)
“Roll out the living wage. We all work hard. That’s all I have to say” (43 likes)
I just wish SA’s got a little more looked after for our hard work. Our managers are great but there is only so much they can do for us” (26 likes)
Not just in the UK guys, its rough in the US too…
But doesn’t the saying go, we don’t work for Lush for the money? People need to stop saying it because almost validates the poor pay. I know I don’t volunteer and I do work for the money and it’s pretty pitiful” (11 likes)
Try living in xxxxx, just as expensive as London. But no living wage! Love lush. But most of the stores around us pay living wage. I think it should be country wide. Equality for every sales assistant please.”
it’s hard for me as a manager to justify to my brilliant trainee why there is such a difference in our wages but not our roles.
i really appreciated the payrise for my staff last year and i know they did too, so we can’t complain you much.
i work in retail because i enjoy it, not for the money but it is frustrating that i can’t live independently of my parents because i can’t afford to. we’re so focused on profit at the moment at work and we might just make the next pay grade soon”
We all do the same job and therefor should be paid the same working wage. The team I work with in XXXXXX work so hard and it annoys me that 90% of us really struggle not long after pay day once bills etc are paid. Lush as a company campaign for human rights so surely the rights of the hard working staff they employ should come first?
Last year I was actually coming to work hoping that somebody brought in biscuits because I could not afford to, y’know, EAT”
I wonder if those who were on a more comfortable wage would fancy doing a swap and try living off our pay for a month or two”
I have worked in some of the most hard- working, committed and strong teams in various stores and it is very disheartening when we lose people at trainee manager level because they cannot afford to work at Lush”

And then, after 100 comments, again, Mark chimes in with….

Just thought I would say a couple of things. In my opinion there is a lot of scope for increasing salaries at the sharp end”

Well, you don’t say. Salaries have not increased at the sharp end since this pathetic post. How Mark can read accounts of his staff not being able to get into work and having to permanently worry about money, and then to give such a half-hearted answer I will never know. Internally, Mark has communicated to managers that one of the things he would like to rectify is talented staff leaving Lush once being trained and learning a lot on the job, only to then take all of these skills to a different company. Well, perhaps you should fucking start treating us rightly then? This year, a lot of the most dedicated managers are set to leave because they can’t take working for a company that doesn’t value its staff, and some of the most promising keyholders have already left. Not all of this is down to the shocking, unfair pay, but in some cases it is the determining factor. The lack of staff support of course is another factor, however that’s another email.

In emailing this to you, I hope that this can somehow kickstart things. Recently, a staff member enquired about whether there were any discussions currently about a wage increase, however there was no response from anybody from payroll, Mark himself, or many of the other people who monitor the staff room facebook who would’ve been able to provide an answer. Staff nowadays are not being listened to and are instantly shut down or ignored by those above if they post any concerns. I’d love it if you can somehow get an answer about the  living wage issue or why Lush promotes a fair wage for cocoa butter farmers but not for its own staff.  If no answer comes of this, at least this may alert more people so they never, ever make the mistake of working for a company that can provide such great times, but ultimately not value you at all.


I can’t do anything about the wages and employment conditions Lush offer. I wish I could. But what I can say to all of their employees is this: you will never achieve a change for the better by yourself. Join a union (USDAW is probably the best one) and encourage your colleagues to join too. And once there are enough of you, start fighting to improve your terms and conditions.

As for you, Mark the millionaire, why on earth don’t staff get an enhanced rate for working Boxing Day? Are you really that greedy, selfish and cruel?


As always, if you want to contact me, email southside socialist at hotmail dot co dot uk. I will not respond – or publish – comments left on the blog which say “contact me.” Use the email address.

Edited to add:

since this post was published, I have had an email from someone regarding posts on the Lush staff facebook page. These are reproduced below, with names of staff, shops, towns and countries removed. Comments in bold in square brackets are mine.

I am just going to reignite the “living wage debate” minimum wage is being raised to £6.50 in october. This would mean sales assistants will only be earning 6p above minimum wage. For a company that does so much good in the world is it time we get paid a wage that would mean a lot of us do not have to work numerous jobs to pay our bills. What are your ideas? I personally would sacrifice our wonderful generous staff discount for a pay rise. I am only looking for positive feedback/criticism in response I do not wish for any attacks on a personal opinion xoxo

61 people like this. [staff discount on crap products isn’t better than a decent wage]

Does our pay not go up every year like minimum wage? But yes, I agree we should get paid more, especially with London staff getting the “living wage” just to make it a bit fairer for the rest of the staff across the UK. Just my opinion.  I think if you’re a student, like myself, then the pay isn’t an issue. But I do feel sorry for staff members who have bills to pay and can’t afford to move out of home, etc xx

I believe it will continue to be 25p above minimum wage when it goes up as it did last year. If in doubt I’m sure payroll can shed some light on this matter by giving them a ring in the morning.

Unfortunately 25pence above minimum wage does not go very far. A living wage for all staff(not just Londoners) would be fair as certain parts of the uk are just un affordable. XXXXX is a very expensive place to live just as expensive as London thanks to the commuters which have cottoned on to the 20 minutes transport link into central London and the exceptional schools. Its just not very equal or just is it?

A standard living wage would be lovely considering in even our basic sales assistant roles we’re expected to do quite a bit more than other sales assistants in other high street stores.   Like · 36

We are staff members that go above and beyond the call of duty. We do it because we love our company. It’s a wonderful working environment. But I do notice that the price of products goes up faster than our wages do. A better basic rate would go a long way. Especially seeing as we as staff members put in a lot of time and effort in work, as well as our own personal time at home to study what we need to know.  Like · 18

I agree and wish this would apply in the states. I love and appreciate everything this company has done for me but it’s true that for what’s expected of sales associates and key holders we don’t get paid very much. Managers make a very good living and have good benefits but the people who are selling the products, training constantly and using that knowledge, and giving their heart and souls to the company do not make very much at all and often need second jobs. Not trying to start a debate but it’s something I wish the company would consider

I agree that all staff should be paid a living wage especially those in commuter towns but we really shouldn’t be looking at this as ‘who’s getting LW and who’s not’. I have worked for Lush both with and without living wage, outside of London before wages were increased above minimum wage. In London my rent is more than 3 times the amount I was paying outside of London and believe me my wages have not increased by that amount! Please don’t assume that because London staff are getting LLW they are far better off than everyone else outside of the London area. I know that I was better off outside of London without LW. Ethical wages for all should be discussed, and if we really want to make it fair we should look at the living costs for each individual area around the UK and Ireland.

Sad to say so, but: Germany is about to implement minimum wage in 2015. We earn less than that. Depending on the hours you make – much less.  I’m a student and get many benefits concerning taxes etc, but I always wonder how some get along. And I have to point out: This is MY opinion, from the shop, my coworker, manager or anybody else. But I worked full time over christmas and no, you can’t really live on that. Maybe I’m a spoiled brat, but people stocking shelfes at Aldi/Lidl (you have that over there, do you?) earn so much more without being so in love with their jobs as most of ous are. My first thought on minimum wage was “Yes, I could stay with Lush!”

Oh, one thing I forgot in my calculation: Our health care is (in most cases) automatically deducted, so maybe it’s not as worse as it looks to someone who only pays little insurance as I do.

I was told that sales assistant rate will rise to £6.66 when minimum wage increases.  Living wage would mean a lot to us in XXXX, because XXXXXX everything is incredibly expensive. Apparently there are bands for pricing, eg in restaurants, and we are the same band as London, so what we pay for things here is the same as what is paid in London.

Personally, I’m stuck in a student flat with debts piling up because I can’t afford a deposit on my own house or the general cost of living! To put that into perspective, I’m the store manager. So if I can’t afford to live, what about the rest of my team?

US minimum wage is equivalent to 4.35 in pounds. We make a bit more in my state, but not much. I have earned all my wage increases with hard work, dedication, and advancement, but I still couldn’t support myself on just that salary.

London Living amount is not decided by Lush. It is an independent initiative endorsed by Mayor of London etc and has been adopted by Lush like many employers in London. I suggest that you look towards your local government in order to introduce a similar scheme. And just to add, the Living Wage makes it easier with the cost of London but does not solve the issues we are having due to our economy. [True, but Lush determine the wages that Lush pay. They could choose to pay more than the London living wage if they wanted to]

wow I was shocked when I found out the wage in the uk. in Australia the wage is $22 for over 21years. it is not ‘minimum wage’ here. we have certain categories for different industries. good luck!

A company that does not provide performance related pay increases cannot expect to maintain a motivated workforce. Lush are an ethical company, my shop is good fun to work in, and I love the company of y colleagues, who for the most part, are my friends. But, there’s a word for all of this… Exploitation of workers. In the past year my shop has lost impeccable sales assistants purely because they weren’t getting paid an equitable wage. It’s ludicrous for the powers to be to assume that one will stay in the job out of any loyalty to the brand. Absolutely this should not be the case. [Lush is not an ethical company, and performance related pay has been shown time and time again to be de-motivating for staff, but I agree about the exploitation of workers]

The XXXX minimum wage is respectable on European standards, having this the cost of living in XXXXXX is one of the highest in western Europe, and roughly about 20%-30% higher than the rest of the country. Lush are getting over this by putting in place contracts that are appealing to students only, seeking part time work and offering contracts with the lowest possible hours. I think it is a sad reflection on employers in the past few years that work though perhaps quantitative leaves so many underemployed. XXXXX your point regarding the economy is unsubstantiated. I feel Lush could easily afford to provide their workers with an ethical wage. Especially Supervisors and trainee managers. I can only speak with any authority on the XXXX economy, however according to figures in the the other week, the United Kingdom economy is recording very healthy growth of 3% per annum. Moreover, in general across western Europe consumer confidence is at the highest it’s been in years. If Lush are struggling due to extraneous economic circumstances, they could do with cutting back in areas that don’t affect the lowest paid.   Like · 20

I wasn’t saying that Lush shouldn’t provide an ethical wage. I absolutely believe that our company has a duty of care towards its staff and a living wage is part of that. I believe a local scheme would benefit these areas much more as it would allow other employers to participate. My comment to do with the economy was not aimed towards the company’s finances. More towards the extreme cost of living in London which would be much worse, for me, if Lush did not offer the Living Wage.

‘Lush’ do not set contracted hours for staff, that is your manager’s responsibilty, and your manager will set these hours according to the needs of the shop, not to avoid having to pay a fair wage. Unfortunately this is the nature of retail, contracts are provided based on the needs of the business, if it required all staff to be on full time contracts they would be.

Ex Londoner living in XXXX – I can say for a fact our rent is extortionately high and the cost of living is the same! In London there were at least cheap shops like Wilkinsons but here everything is a boutique and crazy expensive, there’s nowhere to buy basic staples because on the whole it is an affluent area. I know a LW would help here too and there are a few staff in the same position of working multiple jobs, myself included and I’m now a keyholder.

That isn’t Lush’s fault but it would be great to earn money we can actually live off. I’m sure so many of us treat this job as more than something that brings in a little pocket money. All our staff are super committed and devoted and go above and beyond xx

Lush are a campaigning company why not start to turn the tide? Lush absolutely advise tat low contract hours should be given. They provided a handbook a year or two ago advising managers on cost saving measures and ways in which their work force can be made as ‘flexible’ as possible. And you’ve hit the nail on the head XXXX ‘needs of the business’. XXXXX, crossed wires, I take your point. They are obliged to provide living wage by Local govt i suppose?

Do you mind if I add Manufacturing to your convo ?  As a lush company man I have always been happy in the past to do extra hours at the weekends when required. Overtime during the week, night shifts, whatever was needed. But due to financial needs I now have to work 2 jobs, meaning that I am no longer available to Lush any more than my regular 40 hour week. I would work more hours for manu on a regular basis but they cannot (due to product requirement) provide extra hours on a regular basis. This means that in future, a lad/lass living at home with Mummy and Daddy who is able to take on extra hours when needed will shine for the company more than me, just because he does not need to feed a family all year round. I look at companies like Aldi who pay a decent hourly wage and sometimes seriously think of changing jobs.

I think that LLW was something Lush did of it’s own accord XXXX, but I’m not 100%

 Sadly, I can not afford to live on Lush’s ethics.  Like · 12

 is a pity they refuse to live up to their own mission statement: ‘we believe in happy people, making happy soap.’ If it wasn’t for the friendship of my manager, trainee manager and fellow supervisors I’d be much unhappier in the job.

Maybe its time for a co-ordinated campaign from staff? Sounds like a lot of people, regardless of location have similar feelings about this issue. Perhaps chatting with colleagues in your own shop and putting together a letter signed by the staff members and sending it to head office? Would be pretty powerful statement if a lot of shop did that. Either about pay, or contracted hours. [it would be a lot more powerful if every Lush employee who is unhappy about the wages joined a union and fought for an increase. Lush will ignore a letter, and probably get rid of the ringleaders]

Wow so the Australian wage converts to £12 odd according to google? Haha that would be almost double our wage and totally awesome haha!

XXXXX, I am not aware of any handbook that was given out dictating how I should staff my shop? If we didn’t look after the needs of the business we wouldn’t have a business to employ us. I’m all for increased wages, but you can only increase wages if you increase profit, and you don’t do that by staffing your shop incorrectly.

XXXX I’m sure the handbook doesn’t intend to “dictate” the running of the shop. It’ll be more like helpful hints and suggestions that help to cut cost.

The company is continuously increasing it’s profits each year, and it’s prices. Which is GREAT! It’s how a good company should run and it allows the company to grow and provide more jobs. However this growth is in huge part due to the hard work of staff members in all areas at all levels and the point is that it would be nice if we ourselves saw some of this profit, as opposed to products rising in price that we would not be able to afford if it wasn’t for our generous discount.

Well it’s certainly in my shop, I even consulted it during the summer when making rotas. Staffing is one of the lowest over heads for the business. Wouldn’t Maslow argue that a motivated work force can contribute more to the profit margin than an unmotivated workforce?

Maslow would definitely agree with that. But money is not the only motivator available to us and I would say that the vast majority of lush staff members are highly motivated. But the extra monetary motivation would be the biggest help I think , not just to motivation levels, but also to the lives of the staff members that work for the company.

I am sure Mark has seen this thread a thousand times. But for that, I hope he and the rest of the team appreciate people’s opinions on this matter. The financial pressures of a crippled economy are felt mostly by those in the financial bracket we are in. I agree with XXXX  In light of recent price increases, an inclusion in that would be appreciated. I am sure the price increases are due to the additional costs associated with running a business in the present global economic climate, but we are also feeling it here, at home, where it matters most.

We shouldn’t assume that there isn’t anything in the pipeline already, wages will always be something which will go up (eventually), and then the cost of living goes up above this and then we’re back to square one again. It must be difficult to try to stay one step ahead of the economy and I’m sure it is continually being worked on. So rather than compaining about what’s not being done, perhaps we should be asking what is being done (and to the right people)?

I remember a thread dealing with how much growth, lfl and so on we had, and I was kind of proud. A car manufacturer here had less growth and similar “lfl” – and every employee received about 6000€ (yes) bonus. That’s when I started wondering.  It’s just sad that we are oh so social and I still have to bring Ramen for lunch.  Still, I prefer working minimum wage for a Company whose ethics I can stand up for to Aldi etc, yet how great would it be if I would not have to keep in mind that I won’t be able to stay here after university.

My personal opinion is that we would never commit to the official Living Wage outside London that is determined by the government. If the government decides to cut tax credits this increases living wage, it doesn’t seem quite right.
XXXXX, we commit to paying 25p above NMW so this would increase to £6.75 in October 2014. We also commit to never paying development wages based on age like other retailers ie 16-17 = £3.72 or 18-20 year old at £5.03. We don’t discriminate based on age despite what legislation allows to happen!
Price increases in products as far as I am aware are purely on the raw materials price increasing?
XXXXX would you be able to send me a copy of said handbook. I’ve never heard of it but interested to see where it has come from?
I don’t agree with performance related pay on an individual basis, it is too subjective but that’s my personal experience.
We do have excellent bonus schemes and our training is second to none.
I’d also be interested to hear what other retailers are paying if anyone knows?
Talks have been happening.

Hi I think this debate is very healthy. I would love to add that if it wasn’t for the love of the products, values and ethics, my fellow staff members and the inclusive nature in the working environment it would be very difficult to still be working for such a lovely company.   Since working for lush I’ve been offered a job with an old retailer I used to work for XXXXX whom pay there sales assistants 7.35ph there supervisors 70p above that so £8.05 the assistant manager receives a salary of £18,000 and I am not aware of how much the manager earns they also invest a lot of training into their staff ect. But it is dead boring although we should not be accepting low wages purely because we all love our jobs!

I would love to add that a staff campaign would be incredible and it is something I am going to look further into with my local government.

Thanks for your time everyone. You have all come up with some very interesting ideas, and I am so grateful that we are allowed to speak our minds.

Feeling very uncomfortable reading this. X

The important stuff is often uncomfortable to talk about. Just be polite, frank and say how you feel. This isn’t a slate on Lush in any way. Just a conversation about how the company could improve the experience of being a lush employee for it’s staff . Don’t ask, you don’t get. Just say how you feel about the issues being discussed. All points are valid here. X


So many people work for jobs they hate or dislike just to earn a decent living.

It baffles me how people can be in a job they love, and not earn a decent living.

I say living because so many of the Lushies that I know speak about how much they love their jobs but outside of work are simply ‘existing’.

I was mortified to find out a friend of mine worked at lidl stacking shelves (which I’m not putting down as a job, but it’s nowhere near as intense customer service, extra duties and knowledge wise) and earning an extra pound an hour than I am (even on Angel pay) which goes up every few months. They get stacking shelves what the average trainee manager does.

As much as I have seen this debate over and over I do ask myself how many others are considering finding a job outside of lush? I mean searching? Because I know it’s difficult to get a job, that’s why I’m saying “searching”
Someone outside of lush who used to work for them once said something to me a couple of years ago that I personally thought could be accurate. It went a little something like this:

“Lush as a company are excellent at keeping their staff feeling valued. They invent job roles within stores to encourage their staff to work harder. They have roles like lush player, green helper, top banana, in store trainer, spa mascot and sign writer. These roles are designed so that those staff members feel ownership over their store, but are rarely if at all being paid more to do so except the odd bonus which doesn’t come close to the salary you would get otherwise. So essentially, it’s making staff work harder to earn the company profit without rewarding them for it.”

It’s clever, from a business point of view. It’s pretty genius actually, as it’s still working now and can arguably give you experience for your cv.
What I find disheartening from personal experience of actively going on a job hunt is that recruitment companies have questioned my experience because it “doesn’t seem I’m being paid the right amount to have done the things I’ve said that I’ve done”. It’s made it difficult looking for jobs that pay a 16+k salary because regardless of the fact the experience is there, it’s not often a company will take on someone who hasn’t been on a similar salary somewhere else. So be very wary of that fact if you consider somewhere else.
Because regardless of your cv saying these extra responsibilities, to the eyes of another company or recruitment company it likely still reads “shop assistant”.

Very valuable advice and input XXXXX I had no idea that companies tend to hire people on similar salaries and if you aren’t earning the “right” amount it discounts your experience! x

 in my recent job hunt that’s spanned a few months now with various phone interviews with recruitment consultancies the conversations have been very similar. First of all, they did not understand ‘Angel’ and their job role. Upon explaining, they told me to take it off of my CV in favour of the term ‘Regional Management Support’. Which translates to an Angel’s job role, as supporting their own management team, and supporting other management teams around them in crisis if a shop needs support. They were also shocked to know that that job role is often on an hourly rate. Not all Angel’s earn the salary of around 13.5k I believe. Furthermore for the same job in another company the salary would be more, probably around 16k+ for the south of England.
The suggestion of going into a similar role elsewhere was shot down because I do not drive, and regional managers usually have to travel off their own backs and are refunded and the job requires an active UK driving license. Unfortunately I do not get paid enough to get one.

When interviewing in person in recruitment companies (As they often interview simply to get to know you, and what you would like to be put forward for) they said it would be near impossible for me to go for certain roles because other companies look at your salary now. They look at your salary because they want to see how much your company now values you and your experience. If it’s an hourly rate, you’re unlikely to be able to go into a prominent job without a qualification or being already in a similar job that has the same salary or slightly less. It is likely you could go in on a junior level and have to work your way up again.
The amount of times I’ve been told “It might be difficult to place you for the jobs you want the most because of what you get paid now.” And “You don’t seem to earn a lot for the amount you do/have done.” Is really upsetting.
Furthermore if you’re a supervisor, it’s likely you can apply to be a supervisor elsewhere as long as the ethos and branding is similar. Cosmetics to cosmetics, however cosmetics chains and concessions such as Benefit for example, would want you to be makeup certified, and you’d probably have to move across as a shop floor member of staff instead of a supervisor. It’s a whole different ball game if you are already a manager or a trainee manager, as well as working in a position in head office.
It’s also my understanding that within Lush, the factory staff I know earn more to make / wrap the products than we do to sell them, surely that should be equal?
When speaking to recruitment companies about other roles within Lush, such as the time I was a green helper, I was told by one agent to simply take that out of my CV, as it did not effect my salary and did little for my experience. This was after having to explain what it was.
Lush has really confused many of the agencies I’ve spoken to because when talking about the company, they honestly do not understand ‘Helping Hands’ over ‘HR Department’ etc. It’s like we speak a completely different language.
Most ‘sales assistants’ or ‘sales ambassadors’ (I’m not sure what we’re calling ourselves nowadays!) in another company would be expected to do certain tasks: Tills, helping customers by pointing out products and putting out stock. That’s what you are likely to find elsewhere.
Anything above and beyond those duties becomes ‘specialist’, and should be paid / rewarded accordingly.

That’s incredibly disappointing. Our training really is second to none and we are an exceptional sales force – we absolutely need more clarity defining our job roles. What a shame if we can’t transfer the skills we spend so much time developing here!

There are obvious exceptions to the rule, but consider it like this…
Our sales assistants are specially designed to sell our products and speak to our customers. Although a lot of our customer service ability can translate into another retail position, many companies will accept a sales assistant into a similar position in their business. Although your level of training might mean you move up quicker, however that depends on the business. If you’re selling someone else’s products, they’re unlikely to take you on in a higher position over one of their own staff.  I couldn’t, for example, go straight into a retail manager position based on my CV, regardless of having run my own store without a manager for a long period of time or running other stores. I could however, apply for a supervisor or assistant manager role. I’ve had to undertake an apprenticeship in retail management, which NOW considers me able to run a store myself. It seems odd that people consider me differently, simply because I’m studying something. My six years with lush, and my management experience was practically null and void in the eyes of another company until I started this apprenticeship. Weird, huh?


I don’t think it’s necessarily about Lush providing enough pay for our rent and commute. I think it’s about paying competitively and based the expectation of that job. Think of other retailers in the cosmetic industry. Are they required to be as knowledgeable, go thorough as much training, go in-depth with consults, do private events and held to as high a selling standard as a Lush employee? If someone simply reciting the special offer of the week and stocking shelves is making more then a Lush employee I think that needs adjusting. We expect a lot so we should pay more. [My experience of other retailers in cosmetics is that they train their staff, expect them to be knowledgeble, do consultations, do private events and be held to even higher selling standards than Lush. Lush is not a great company; there are plenty better, and they treat their staff better too]

Here in XXXXX the managers job for Poundland is £24,000pa which I personally find astonishing. And my old assistant manager position at a fashion retailer is now £18,000pa + bonus. HUGE contrast.

I think Lush should be ethical by bringing equality to our pay scructure. We should be paid for the job we DO, not how much money our shop takes or where we live. Ive been shot down before for mentioning pay on here before, been told to get a second job – when im a trainee manager working 40+ hours a week! I come home with about £12,000 a year after incime tax and NI deductions. Yet im responsible for running a shop, managing staff etc, the wage doesnt fit the job. When one of our keyholders covers a day for us as an Angel, they gwt £5 extra that day, meaning for that day they are paid MORE than me an hour!!! Which is ethically WRONG. The fact i could work in a different store and be paid over £12,000 MORE a year for the SAME role! How is this ethical? It’s not. I love my job but i feel lousy that my take home pay is that lower of a tesco shelf stacker. (i am not a job snob, its just looks at all my responsibilities compaired to that job!) This subject has been ‘The elephant in the room’ for many years in lush. Im glad but saddened that people are in the same boat as me. Our staff should be paid way more, and trainee salaries should mirror the managers, not the staff as our duties are that of a manager. xx

My Dad told me to join a Union as it’s the only way sometimes to receive equal pay/rights. [your dad is absolutely right. All of the people commenting here need to join a union and start standing up for themselves]

Do other retailers not pay a higher salary based on store size/turnover?

XXXXX I do think people should be paid more but I do think there should be a difference between trainees and managers. My understanding is that trainees are managers in training? Not assistant managers?
Interested to hear thoughts.
Will look at the £5 angel bonus.

Upon leaving LUSH in XXXXX I brought up this point as well, here we are paid minimum wage with an incentives program though it was rarely paying us more than 12$/hr making that 5$ below living wage… Not to mention upon bring up issues with our XXXXX c.e.o I was treated rudely and never apologised to, the reason I will no longer even be a LUSH customer. Not everything is as shiny as it seems.

Yes, they do but not all, as an ethical company, why do Lush follow the tide? I agree there should be a difference between managers and trainees, but the pay level should be similar, im paid around 50p more than my staff but my managers paid around £2 more than me… My job day tp day is the exact same role as my manager, so i find this really backward. I know our job role is ‘Trainee Manager’, but we ARE Assistant Managers. The shops wouldn’t run without us. A trainee position isnt an extra role created within a store for the sake of training someone, its a role of two sides, Assistant and Trainee. I really see no difference between these roles xx

I’d love to be able to join an Union but I can’t afford the fees! We have fairly traded ingredients, why can’t we have fairly traded staff? [many unions stagger their membership fees so that lower earners pay less, higher earners pay more – check it out]

I totally agree!

My thought is that if the sales assistants wage is going up by 25p an hour, what about trainee and manager wage?
There are some places in the uk where we will never have million pound shops, and some places which will never make profit as regularly as other places. We shouldn’t be penalised for this, how else can we receive pay increases if it’s not feasible to make bonus every month?

I think a little bit would really show that lush are listening, and that really matters to me – to know that they really care for their staff. [they don’t really care for their staff]

After I pay everything out each month I have around £15-20 a week for things like coffees/treats/clothes/savings. If I need a pair of shoes then I have to save up. The only reason I have a little more is because I work a second job – and I’m a trainee manager.

I’d love for all trainees to receive an extra little bit each month, and not just sales assistants (although I agree completely that you guys are the foundation of our shops – selling our products with such enthusiasm and love, dealing with all the customers and much much more) and managers deserve more too.

In some stores (other retails jobs) managers and trainees are paid upto 50% more, but they aren’t required to do half of the work we are.

I love the company and the work lush do but I really wish this was addressed

Why aren’t supervisors paid more than sales assistants within Lush?

xxxxxI think the idea of paying people in relation to where they live and what they need sounds like communism too me…. We should be paid fairly for the job we do xx [paying people fairly is more likely to happen under communism than capitalism! if capitalism encouraged fair pay, these comments wouldn’t exist]

I think that paying more for larger turnover stores suggests managers do less work in small shops, whereas in reality we are also acting as sales assistants to keep ourselves profitable. I recognise that it’s an easy way of rewarding managers who take on a big store, but there have historically been very big shops with appalling profit margins, staff turnover and stock management and those managers could be paid almost double what I am. While our performance is all supported and checked through reviews, why not also equalise our pay and allow us to live like professional adults, not broke teenagers?

XXXX amen to that too many managers and trainees living like students. It is not healthy I couldn’t imagine doing a 40+ hour week and having to go home to a little rented room!

I definitly dislike anything close to commission. Not that we’re all that greedy, but how would I feel taking over a councelation because my coworker just doesn’t get along with someone? Or office time. I sometimes wonder what needs so much time, but seems to be important. Yet – no sales made during that time.

And I as a customer would always worry when buying from someone working on commission

I should add that I love this job and the company, and I do believe we can achieve better. I’ve just lost a trainee who has run £2m turnover fast food places and could have been an incredible manager because the job doesn’t pay enough for her to relocate with her family or stay on as trainee. We should want better, and as managers we have been working ourselves to the bone for the last few years to make more profit so we can see that money in our pay.

what is the difference between Key holder, supervisor and angel?

Angels are salaried and usually expected to be moving up in the company/ taking on extra responsibility. Our Angel is very experienced and reliable, and can happily provide developmental feedback, lead training sessions and book events, parties etc.

I don’t feel that your comment referring to staff that live with mummy and daddy is fair. Everyone has different circumstances and we do try to accommodate everyone in a fair way. I am sure any of the xxxx team would be happy to chat with you about your issues and concerns. In terms of not being able to offer overtime all year round, staff know we have seasonal peaks in production and we can’t always provide the overtime that people would like to do. Like I said if you would like to speak to me or any of the other guys please let me know.

some of us have no choice but to live with “mummy and daddy”! as we don’t earn enough money! I feel sad that once I finish my degree I will have to get myself a “real” job and that I can’t classify Lush as a real job because I simply cannot afford rent, even if I got another part time job!

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But I feel I do have a “real ” job! I have had 15 very enjoyable years with lush and I hope to have a further 15

I want to stay with Lush, too, but what if I want a baby? Or a mortgage? Or dental work? Or new glasses, a holiday, a new laptop, clothes made ethically, a trip to see my sister in xxxxx? I’m relying on bonus and bonus isn’t pay.

We would all like to make more money, but I wouldn’t sacrifice doing something I love for any amount of money. I work for Lush because I love it, I am good at it, and it brings me joy to help others. I have many marketable skills and get recruited all the time for other work. This job has value for me far beyond its pay. We are still a small company and maybe someday wages will change, but until then, I trust that price increases are going back into the business and that our founders care too much for us and the culture we promote to be lining their pockets while we starve. Maybe I’m naive, but I still believe in We Believe. [that’s great for you, but other people obviously have different financial pressures]

my point is that I do have a real job. I don’t want to get dragged into this topic any further.

Some Angels are part time Angels, our two keyholders Angel for us occasionally and are paid an extra £5 for that day. This is because our budget doesnt allow for full time keyholder/angels plus we only need them as Angels when me or my manager on hols or at a meeting and the other has a day off etc.

 As some people said here, I love working in my shop, it’s a fun job and the people are mostly friends after all the time that we spend together. But the amount of knowledge, effort and commitment we are asked to have is not reflected by the hourly wage. Similar retail positions in the same area are paid 50p+ than us per hour, with far less responsibilities.
I also think that most of us would be happy with a smaller discount and a higher wage, because at the end of the day, I prefer to be able to save some money than having a huge stash of cosmetics. Getting our products half price is a good perk, but unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills.

It seems like people are pretty united on this issue. Who’s up for drafting a letter and sending it to Head Office/Helping Hands from your shop? I think it might be a good place to start, as it will let those in charge know that staff aren’t as happy as they should be all over the country. [DO NOT DO THIS. They will find a way to get rid of you. Join a union, fight for yourselves with protection and back-up]

I think its good to chat to other staff about it too, often wages aren’t discussed but this could be a great opportunity for staff to unite and put some of their excellent campaigning skills to use and campaign for better care for staff.

Mark Constantine: I have to say thanks to everyones hard work business is looking very good. Last month we introduced a profit share at the top of the company. Spreading the profits outside of the shareholders through a series of senior management and staff members who have been with the company more than ten years.. As the current trend in business continues we will be in a great position to announce more benefits, announcing some next week. Thanks for all your points of view and commitment.. Mark Constantine.   Like · 26 [why not start the profit share at the bottom of the wages ladder so the people who need it most benefit first? Arsehole]

Notice how most of the comments change to gushing adoration now the cult leader has spoken:


This is why i love this staff room our comments are heard and responded to thank you so much Mark Constantine

Thoroughly appreciate this as a forum for discussion, thanks for the response Mark Constantine

This thread has been interesting to read. Am curious to see what the new benefits are. Also does anyone know the answer as to why supervisors are paid the same as shop assistants despite our added responsibilities?

It doesn’t look as though companies are obliged to offer a pay increase with a promotion – although it is good practice, according to this article.  There’s some very good and fair advice in this for all sides of the debate,

I think regardless of whether or not Lush management are prepared or able to give us a pay increase, it is essential we have clarity in terms of our job roles. The one thing I have always felt is that I am learning and should be able to take these skills anywhere, should there ever be a life after Lush! I’m a bit tired so I’m rambling… Basically Lush job descriptions need to correspond with job descriptions in the big wide world so the one thing we can all agree we do gain here – skills!! – are transferable xx

We do have written job descriptions which your manager will have shown you or be showing you in the near future. These list all aspects of the role we do.  They were sent through on E-mail in the last few weeks so if you ask your manager I’m sure they will give you your copy x

As long as those benefits will not only be implemented for UK staff – this is why I love lush

Thank you so much for your feedback! That’s something you’ll probably never see elsewhere. [nonsense. Employees who are union members, in a workforce with union recognition, get regular information from senior management because the unions talk o senior management and make them listen]

I just worked out that the (Lush Product) I bought this week, cost me nearly 2 1/2hrs of working at Lush to pay for! Kind of ironic really

Looking forward to hearing what’s in the pipeline. As it stands Living wage in London is £8.80 and for rest of UK it’s £7.65. My manager is £1 above Living wage, whereas im 56p below it and our staff are £1.09 below the Living Wage. It’s very sad for the amazing work they do and the work us trainees and managers do in smaller takings shops which are in dying high streets like ours. We give our best every day, it would be just to be paid accordingly xx

Hey xxxx I have been shown! It’s not that we don’t have clarity internal to Lush – I mean these job roles have to be understandable when you take them to the wider job market. I’m really proud to be Visual Merchandiser and In store Trainer – my friend is a great Campaigns (person!?) but I am concerned if those along with titles such as “Angel” and “Trainee” don’t really translate, or we’re “not paid enough” to make our experience valuable. XX was talking about it further up the thread xx

Funny how most staff say it’s not Lush’s fault and actually thank Mark Constantine for commenting and for his input when it is him who keeps the wages low. [Well said]


Just to clarify, Lush managers and trainee managers are paid according to how much their shops turn over in a year.  For a small shop with a low turnover the salary is OK for the manager and crap for the trainee (who does the same as a manager but is paid around 5K less because of the word ‘trainee’ being in their job title).  In areas where the shop turns over a higher amount like some London and big city shops the managers and trainees are paid double what low turnover shops are paid.  The managers in higher turnover shops don’t work harder, they have two trainees in most cases and lots of supervisors (paid the same as sales assistants) to help them as their staffing budgets are much higher.  Low turnover shop managers work harder having to balance the staff budget and run the shops with minimal staff.  This is the hierarchy that exists at Lush.  Equal opportunities simply do not exist here.

It’s great that so many Lush employees are starting to feel angry about the way they’re treated and how low their wages are. I worry though, that the brave few who stick their head above the parapet and sign those letters requesting higher wages will quickly find themselves being told they’re not a good fit, the chemistry’s not right, they have a mental illness or some other flimsy reason to get rid of them. Please, staff, protect yourselves, join a union, raise things that way. I know some of you think you can’t afford to, but these comments make it clear you can’t afford not to.


The Smell of Bullshit, part 49: but what are they going to do about the complaints?

Someone has sent me a copy of an email relating to customer care, which Lush had sent out in error. They’re not really very good at emails, are they? The usual customer care emails are full of spin and talk about how wonderful everything is, but the unedited info in the email that went out paints quite a different picture.

Feb 2014 customer care email

Products causing blistering? Products containing what might be glass? Products going mouldy? All of these things have been raised with Lush via the forum over and over again, for years. But it’s obviously still happening. If you buy a product, and it’s mouldy, or filled with foreign objects, or it causes blistering on your skin, contact your local council’s Trading Standards department straight away.

Wacky Water Races

The past few times I’ve been for a swim in the evening, there has been no slow lane, only open water, medium lane, fast lane, and club swimming. Open water is awful if you want to do lengths so I have been promoting myself to the medium lane. Most of the time it’s been ok; it’s been quiet enough that there has been plenty of space to overtake, and I’ve said to people “I’m usually a slow lane swimmer but there is no slow lane tonight, so I won’t get the hump if you overtake me.”

Tonight was horrid though. It was much busier, and there was a horrible woman who was barging past people and pulling in too soon – she barged me into the lane rope at one point, and other people were muttering too. I tried to swim as fast as I could so as not to hold people up, and managed what I think is my fastest yet – 1km in 24m35s, average 1m10 per 50m length – but I needed much longer recovery periods at the end of the lengths, so it ended up taking me longer! It really hurt my sore shoulder too. I hope they bring the slow lane back; it’s needed.