Compass offers pay advance, grants for UK staff in dire straits

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows smartphone with Compass Group's logo displayed

By Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) - Contract caterer Compass Group said on Monday it had recently launched a salary advance scheme and a new grant for employees in Britain facing financial hardship and grappling with a worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Inflation in Britain has soared to a 41-year-high, driven by the rising cost of everything from food to energy, leaving poorer households in a precarious position and prompting some employers to offer extra help to retain staff.

Compass, which employs 50,000 people in Britain and Ireland, said the advance option gives monthly salaried employees the ability to withdraw up to 50% of their earned pay before payday.

The world's largest catering group said it was too early to give numbers on the advance pay scheme, which was officially launched last Wednesday.

Those employees can make up to three withdrawals per pay cycle in addition to their normal pay, it added.

For staff in financial hardship, Compass said it has also formally launched a 'Helping Hands' fund at the start of this month and provides debt consolidation at a lower cost of interest than they would face on the market.

There have been 63 applicants to the new fund over the past month, it said, without giving details on its size.

Tesco, one of Britain's largest private-sector employers, is also offering its staff advances on their pay.

Cleaning and property management company Mitie has also offered some staff a "winter support package", which includes an option to borrow against future pay.

In the United States, Compass said its 'same day pay' initiative, which is more established, is used by around 15,000 employees.

CEO Dominic Blakemore said that fair pay is Compass' main focus, with 60% of its British workforce on the real living wage.

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong; Editing by Alexander Smith)