Another email from an ex-employee of Lush, who worked at a shop in south-east England. I’m not going to reproduce it here whole because I don’t want the woman identified, and also, some of what she says could well entice the trolls who think women are asking for it. There is some discussion of sexual harassment in this post.
I’ve just discovered some of your blog posts regarding Lush, and so much of it rang true to me that I would like to share my experience with you. I applied to be a Seasonal Sales Assistant in 2014, and managed to get an interview. This was my first ever job interview so I was incredibly nervous. My interview was around five minutes long and predominantly consisted of product knowledge questions, I then did a two hour work trial where I was put on the shop floor with absolutely no prior experience or training, to speak with customers. It was terrifying. I was a young and naïve Lush obsessive at the time, but I had NO IDEA how to sell these products. I was given no guidance whatsoever and only given help when I had to ask a more experienced colleague on behalf of a customer.
This is poor. If you want your staff to do a good job, you have to train them.
I somehow managed to be accepted for the role, and due to my rose tinted glasses and the seemingly nice manager, I was really excited. I then worked at Lush from October-December and it was absolutely dreadful. I revised the Lush website for HOURS in my spare time so that I could do an adequate job as I was given no formal training, and I was never praised for working as hard as I did. We had a trainee manager at that time who was best friends with the manager and they would always bitch about other colleagues and sometimes even customers while on the shop floor, they would really intimidate their less favourite ones (which included me) and make them feel stupid in front of everyone.
Some people will argue that seasonal (Christmas) staff shouldn’t expect training because they’re there to do a short-term job at the busiest part of the year. But surely it being the busiest part of the year is why they need to be trained? Bitching about colleagues is part of working life, we all do it and it’s a natural form of stress relief, but doing it on the shop floor is unprofessional and should be unacceptable. Intimidating colleagues and making them feel stupid in front of others is bullying, but having read other comments from other employees about Lush’s behaviour at management meetings, it seems to be a top-down problem.
They highly encourage things like tattoos to make you look more “unique”. This brings me onto a guy I work with. He was covered in tattoos and got hand and neck tattoos while he worked for Lus. When I started he showed a massive interest to me. A girl I work with said he’s like that with anybody new only unless they’re gay. He was around 22 years old and wouldn’t stop pestering me. I wasn’t really attracted to him but I agreed to go in a date with him one evening after he obtained my number from management and kept pestering.
Repeatedly pestering a colleague for a date after they’ve said no is sexual harassment, and the managers of this shop should have protected her from this. Giving this guy her personal number is so far over the line, they obviously can’t even see the line. The line is a dot to them.
… he’d told most other colleagues and they then informed me he has a girlfriend. I felt dreadful. I told him I didn’t want anything to do with him and for him to not approach or speak to me unless it’s to do with work and he decided to totally ignore me. He would touch my ass and get way too close to me on the shop floor if no other colleagues were there and I absolutely hated it. I was frozen out of Lush, while he got a supervisor position. I never let it affect my professionalism and I did more work and put in more effort than most of my colleagues combined, yet I was not kept on after December and the other girls were. (Tattoo guy also set his sights on the sixteen year old after I left.)
So he continued to harass her and nothing was done. And then he started in on somebody else. He sounds pretty predatory, to be honest, and employers should be protecting their staff from sexual harassment and predatory colleagues.
When I started working there they needed my birth certificate, which I provided. It’s the one I’ve always had and has always been accepted for important documents. They said I need to get a long one, otherwise I can’t work there. I had to pay £12 for this and I read that it’s not even necessary. My trainee manager then asked me in front of all my colleagues why my dad wasn’t on it and is that legal. She had no clue and I was so uncomfortable.
We’ve talked before about how ridiculous it is that a company of Lush’s size doesn’t have a proper HR department. Managers should know what paperwork they need and what formats are acceptable, and they should also know not to ask personal questions about possibly sensitive information in public!
I was in college while I worked for Lush and told them specifically that I couldn’t work specific hours as I have college, would need to change before going to work AND travel there, yet they constantly rota’d me in for half an hour after my last lesson ended, which wasn’t even enough time to get there. They make you fill out so much paperwork and ask incredibly invasive questions if you have a day off, you don’t get paid extra for Boxing Day and you are treated like shit the whole time.
This all sounds so very familiar.
Rotas changed constantly and it was a horrible, dank working environment. Once there was a problem with the sewage yet we were still forced to work and put up with the smell of piss and shit in any room that wasn’t the shop floor (fortunately the smell of Lush products covered it). There were no fire alarms in the building and I was told on my first day that if you see fire, shout about it as there’s no alarms. Safe, right? Fire exits were constantly blocked by boxes of Lush products and I got a migraine every day from the smell of the products. I now have a job at a budget supermarket, the pay is nearly double, you’re encouraged to progress, you’re treated well and it isn’t cliquey like Lush. I needed a reference for my new job from Lush and my emails were ignored three times despite the fact management check the emails around ten times a day, I then got a response from the trainee manager who is now manager just confirming the dates I worked there, that is it. Lush is a dreadful place to work, and I no longer use their products as they aren’t as ethical as they like to claim. I would highly advise for anybody to avoid Lush like the plague.
Lots of this is bad but nobody’s going to die from inconvenient rotas or unhelpful managers. But no fire alarms and blocked fire escapes is incredibly hazardous. There is lots of guidance available and the goverment guidance for England and Wales is available here
. Employers, owners and managers can be fined and/or sent to prison if they don’t follow fire safety regulations. And one of those regulations includes having a fire safety risk assessment and safety plan.
Fire safety and evacuation plans
Your plan must show how you have:
- a clear passageway to all escape routes
- clearly marked escape routes that are as short and direct as possible
- enough exits and routes for all people to escape
- emergency doors that open easily
- emergency lighting where needed
- training for all employees to know and use the escape routes
- a safe meeting point for staff
If you are working in a building where the fire escapes are blocked and/or locked, and you are comfortable reporting it to your manager, report it as soon as you can. If it’s a recurrent problem, or the manager does nothing about it, report it to your union and/or your workplace health & safety rep. If you’re not in a union, join one, and remember you can always report dangerous work environments to the Health and Safety Executive or to your local council. If you’re worried about your job, report it anonymously – you can even do it online. No matter how much you like or need your job, it’s not worth dying in a fire for.
Big thanks to the reader who pointed this youtube vlog out to me.
I’m not sure how reading out comments from someone else’s blog (without bothering to credit it) counts as vlogging, but there you go.
A couple of emails from two ex-employees of everybody’s favourite ethical employer, Lush. The people have asked me to only use excerpts rather than the whole emails, so I’m picking out the worst bits, some of which are a) despicable, b) unlawful and c) cruel. Some of these issues could have been dealt with by a union, or a decent HR department, or a competent, well-trained manager who understands employment law and has a soul.