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.
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.
I worked for Lush for just under 4 years and have just left a big store because quite simply I’d given up caring. After a full year of abuse, bullying, shitty management, cliques and back stabbing and favouritism, I’d had enough. The management are more interested in filling their pockets than the welfare of their staff; having seen over half the staff have breakdowns in front of me (and with that MASSIVE staff turnover) I’m sure you can appreciate, one fellow human to another that watching that amount of suffering and fear was just too much.
Staff members were too afraid to call in sick despite having serious health issues, because they’d lose their jobs. People were fired for less, without following proper procedure (i.e. 3 verbal warnings, 3 written, disciplinarys, etc) and to top it all fired in front of other members of staff and not in private. One of my friends had 3 members of her family die within 6 weeks of each other at home in eastern Europe, she went to the first 2 funerals and got harassed by phonecalls asking why she wasn’t in for her shifts despite being given bereavement leave. When her third family member died she was unable to go home, but a senior member of management told her she was too miserable to be on the shop floor and had to smile more, she wasn’t allowed to be back of house doing quiet jobs as that ”wasn’t what shes paid for”.
I also had a similar experience when my father died. I got phone calls asking where I was, why I wasn’t in and even when I kept hanging up they’d ring back, eventually I stopped answering. Don’t get me wrong, there were two members of management who were amazing, but when I came back to work eventually, I got blamed for so many things going wrong whilst I was away that had nothing to do with me.
In the last 3 months, the management team have grown from about 9/10 to around 36 and still couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. When the shop originally opened up and I transferred, it was promised that rotas would be given 4 weeks in advance. Never happened, a year on they’ve only got as far as 2 weeks and that only happened a YEAR after the store opened, after investing in a huge program to do the rotas FOR YOU and it still, doesn’t happen. Working week at Lush runs from Monday to Sunday, you would receive the next weeks rota on a Thursday (if you were lucky) giving you 3 days notice. You had no social life, no opportunity let alone trying to get into a sleeping pattern. I regularly had to work back to back lates-earlys with less than 5 hours sleep, until I finally stated that if they continued to put me on that rota I would just show up as and when I pleased. It wasn’t even CLOSE to legal – and I’ll just add, that unless you went to the rota team, this did not change, lots of staff are still having to deal with this, they will not make the changes for everyone, just individuals. Not to also mention, the law states you can work a maximum of 6 days in a row then must have at least 24 hours off. Nope, my record was 11 days, I know of a lot of people doing 14/15.
Stock takes are a big issue; they used to run until 10pm but then got changed until 12am finish time. For those unfamiliar with London transport, the tubes do not run through all the night yet, they stop. All over ground trains stop at around 12:30/1am. Buses DO run night services but reduced routes, through dangerous parts of London. I live an hour from my shop (if its a good day and the Tubes behave). Finishing at midnight means I am stranded in London overnight. I can not get to a overground trainline fast enough to catch the last train home and I will not take my life in my hands by taking a bus (which also means my journey time goes up to 2 hours 45 mins). And all members of staff should be rota’d to do every 3rd stocktake – never happens, favouritism strikes again, many MOS find they are rota’d to do 5/6 in a row and then have to fight tooth and nail to get one off. Anyway I’m off on a tangent, staying this late for work qualifies, as I understand it, for Unsociable Hours Pay. Nope. Not a whisper. Not to mention ALL stocktakes are on a Sunday, did I say that before? SO already, the Tubes/Trains/Buses are at a way reduced down service, not to mention works and maintenance. The manager’s answer? ”Get an UBER home” … yeh. I have no words. You already pay us shit money, so lets spend it on a taxi home from London at midnight at top tariff rates.
Paperwork? HA, nope. never got done. I originally signed a 20h contract and after about 8 weeks I asked to increase to 35h, which was agreed. Never signed that contract, never saw a copy of that contract, never got confirmation from payroll and the way overtime works with Lush, if you work over your contract your overtime actually contributes towards earning more holiday. Never saw that either. Still waiting for my pension information which I signed on for when the Workplace Pension started off over 18 months ago.
I had surgery last year and was recommended by my surgeon for 4 weeks off. According to Lush I could have 1 week off with Stat. Sick Pay and another week off if I used my Holiday. That was it. I had 2 out of 4 weeks off, and believe me I paid for it! I had to hide in toilets because I was in so much pain, but if I complained I got sent home and had to fill in a return to work which then was used against me – if you register as having more than 3 sicknesses in 3 months/10% absences you face a disciplinary. So either way I lose. But the flip side being, I know of Management who got drunk at work and then called in sick the next day- hangover much???? Or shift swapping to go see their boyfriends when we were down to 1 manager at a busy Christmas shift. Totally responsible, made everyone on that shop floor feel amazing.
So much awfulness in these emails.
For the record, if a medical professional tells you you need time off work, get a sick line (or fit for work thing as they call them now) from the doctor and hand it in, and DO NOT go back to work until the doctor has agreed you’re ready. If you get any shit from your employer, contact your union.
Critics of this blog try to say that Lush is a good employer because they’ve never seen anything like this happen, and these must be “rogue” shops. How many “rogue” shops and/or managers does it take before a widespread problem is recognised?
Just back from seeing new Ghostbusters. Loved it. It’s more or less the same plot as the first Ghostbusters (in the same way that The Force Awakens is more or less the same plot as A New Hope), and it’s just as enjoyable. And, the Ghostbusters themselves are four women who are intelligent, funny, brave, loyal, determined, and completely kick-ass while remaining fully clothed and avoiding cat-fights. A film like this was well overdue.
Two years on, how are they getting on with that pledge?
Surprise surprise! The Guardian says “the company has been unable to eradicate the mineral from its supply chain.” Lush say they haven’t knowingly bought any materials containing natural mica since 2014, but they also say “as a direct ingredient it would be easy to identify, but unfortunately mica remains as part of a complex mix of materials that are used to make colour pigments and lustres.” The article also says that Lush say they don’t have the local knowledge or purchasing power to stay and make a difference, but given that several other companies are working in the area to get children to school instead of mines, you’d think they could join in. Several companies, according to the article, have committed to only buying mica from legal and fenced mines, where child labour is less likely to be involved, as well as ending relationships with mines where audits showed child labour was used. But they all acknowledge it’s impossible to be 100% sure child labour was not involved. But, here’s the thing.
Which is more moral? Continuing to produce products even though you’re not 100% sure they didn’t involve child labour? Or discontinuing the products until you can be sure you have a child labour-free option?
Part five in our There’s a Long Long Trail A-Winding Series
When war broke out in August 1914, the people of Britain clamoured to do what they could to support the war effort. Men volunteered for the army and others set about establishing relief units to help the army or provide assistance to civilians and refugees. The Scottish Women’s Hospitals were one of those – yet they were also very different, because, right from the beginning, they were set up with two very specific aims: firstly, to help the war effort by providing medical assistance and secondly, and equally importantly, to promote the cause of women’s rights and by their involvement in the war, help win those rights.
The SWH’s original idea was set up a hospital in Edinburgh to help treat the war wounded. However this was soon abandoned in favour of setting up hospitals in the field, close to…
Please vote tomorrow, if you can. Whether you vote in, vote out, or spoil your paper and vote shake it all about, please vote. This whole referendum campaign has been so unpleasant, so nasty and so full of crap, that the eventual losing side will have a field day if the final result is close on only a 30% turnout.
Lesley Kelly’s brand new thriller ‘A fine house in Trinity‘ features cameos from not one, but TWO of Edinburgh’s libraries within its 288 pages.
McDonald Road and Leith Library both make an appearance, but to find out why and how, you’ll have to read the book for yourself! Check it out in either hardcopy or ebook format.
‘A fine house in Trinity’ is the newest addition to our Edinburgh Reads Map of books set in our city. Take a look to find out which novels are set in your neighbourhood, and be sure to let us know of any we might have missed!