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£428 million in free shares and bonuses paid to employees since 2006
83 per cent paid to pub staff
Note from editor: Wetherspoon has been named as a top employer by the Top Employers Institute for the last 17 years in a row (as featured on The Guardian newspaper’s website). The article below outlines Wetherspoon’s bonus and free shares scheme. No company is perfect, but Wetherspoon believes that it pays a higher percentage of its profits in this way than most, or possibly any, large companies.
Since the early 1980s, Wetherspoon has awarded bonuses, free shares and ‘share options’ to pub employees. The current scheme of paying monthly bonuses to all pub employees, subject to certain criteria, started in 1998, with a government-approved free share scheme introduced in 2003.
Bonuses and share schemes provide an extra incentive for people to stay with the company: there are 10 employees who have worked for the company for over 30 years, 326 for over 20 years, 3,049 for over 10 years and 8,827 for over five years.
Since 2006, the company has paid £428 million to its employees in respect of bonuses and free shares.
Of the recipients, approximately 96 per cent were employees below board level, with around 83 per cent paid to employees working in pubs. Employees are eligible for bonuses from the commencement of their employment and are eligible for free shares after 18 months. In the financial year ended July 2020, when pubs were closed for a substantial period and the company made a loss of £29.9 million, bonuses and free shares of £33 million were awarded (see table* below), with 97 per cent of employees receiving a bonus and/or shares in that period.
In previous financial years, when pubs were open for the entire time, substantially higher payments were made. For example, £46 million was awarded in 2019, when 97 per cent of staff also received a bonus and/or free shares. At the current time, 15,032 of our 37,582 employees have been awarded free shares in the company.
It’s probably true to say that no one earns a vast fortune from these schemes. However, as far as the company is aware, Wetherspoon consistently pays a bigger percentage of its profits to its employees, by way of bonuses and free shares, than any other large pub/restaurant company or retailer – more even, in the last five years, than John Lewis – a company owned by its employees.
Since the share scheme was introduced, Wetherspoon has awarded 20.6 million shares to employees – approximately 16 per cent of all shares in existence today. Wetherspoon’s chief executive, John Hutson, said: “People are vital to the success of the business. Our bonus and share schemes are a good way to share in the company’s success. A small number of pub employees, who have never sold any of the shares given to them, each have shares worth more than £350,000.”