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I have been spurred on to write this review having read a brilliant review concerning working for Tesco by ciao member tia_bailey. I will try to replicate the level of depth that review went into as it was extremely helpful.
I wandered into the recruitment centre for Harrods which is located in the Crown Court building in Basil Street directly opposite door six of the main Harrods' building in summer 2004. I was 18 and looking for some full time temping work for the summer. By shear luck (and trust me this hardly ever happens) I was given an interview immediately for a position working in a warehouse store support department. Thankfully I was told I could have the job and to return for an induction later on in the week. I had commenced on my time with Harrods.
Rather boring but then I guess they must all be regardless of where you work. You are required to take several forms of ID, fill out some paperwork and have your digital photo taken for your ID card. Then you sit through an afternoon of talks by various departments such as fire safety and security. One interesting point is that in the induction you get to see CCTV clips showing thieves in the act. Very funny what people get up to like one guy trying to nick twelve bottles of champagne in one go!
For shop floor workers they must then sit through several more hours of training for till work etc while the store support people can go home early.
Methods of employment -
There are two methods of working for Harrods during sale time. One is to work directly for them while the other is to go through an external agency. If working for Harrods directly you will be working for a sole department the majority of the time. External agency staff work on a demand basis so can be working in various departments. However I have seen during sale time agency staff waiting around for some work and I do believe that during this time they are not getting paid!
Pay and conditions -
Focusing on direct Harrods staff - temps will be on a low wage which in July 2004 was around £5.60. Store support staff eg warehouse, porters etc do not earn commission. I am not sure about temps on shop floor.
Permanent part time staff of which I have been since the end of the summer sale 2004 earn £8.16 an hour. (After probation period of 12 weeks at £5.60) This rate applies to basic workers and is the same also for full time workers. I cannot comment on what managers etc get paid. Shop floor staff earn the same basic pay as what store support earn however shop floor staff earn 1% commission for each sale. This can be lucrative if working in high turnover departments such as the antiques department where you can make big sales. However the stress on the majority of shop floor staff for just 1% commission is not worth it in my opinion - I'll come back to this point latter on.
Staff Discounts -
Staff discounts are extremely good at Harrods. In the majority of departments you can get a maximum of 30% of any item. However this discount rate varies as there are a minority of departments which will restrict the discount to 10%.
On special staff discount days you are entitled to an additional 10% bonus discount on top of the standard discount so you can get up to 40% off. I do not think the staff discount works at sale time but I am not sure because I have never used the discount.
You can only buy discounted items for yourself or near family. This means on items which need delivery such as a sofa or desk you can only have it delivered to your house only.
If you are caught using the discount for other people you will get into serious trouble possibly a straight dismissal which seems harsh as this is what happens to employees that get caught stealing.
Staff can only get discount via the store card. You buy purchases on the store card and then at the end of the month pay off the total before interest is charged. If you cannot pay it all off you will be charged interest at a horribly high figure which I believe is around 36%APR
Working experience -
This very much differs depending on what department you are working for. I have worked for two departments since at Harrods with differing experiences.
The first was the warehouse department. This was a relaxed working atmosphere where you were given your task to stack shelves or retrieve items and you got on with it independently. It was extremely quiet workplace which may not suit some. However everyone was really nice and would help you out if you got stuck.
The second where I have been for most of my time is store distribution. A great place to work you are required to unload palettes, boxes etc and move them on to the next destination. Not much skill needed although the work can be quite heavy going. Major perk of the job is that my role enables me to listen to my own music on the department stereo while I work. I personally do not think I could find a better part time job in terms of freedom to listen to music and no stress than what I have now.
However this is just personal experience. I personally prefer manual work rather than shop floor and will in turn will be bias. I know shop floor is extremely stressful where you're restricted from talking to fellow staff while working because you got to be chasing the next customer. In store support you can get to know everyone in working hours, have a laugh and work fairly independently.
Store support workers wear a jumper, a pair of boots and a pair of jeans. The safety boots and jumper are provided and you can wear your own black jeans. If you need more uniform you can get it easily enough by just asking your manager although the gear is quality stuff. During winter you are provided with a real nice woolen fleece. You are not provided with heavy-duty gloves but I'm sure if you hustled enough you'd get a pair.
Shop floor workers must be implicably dressed in a suit etc. This can be rather over the top as they are constantly being chased up for little stuff such as not having a top button done up on their shirt or scuffed shoes. These little things can result in disciplinary action being taken.
Every year Harrods will give each staff member £500 in Harrods' vouchers to spend strictly on items which comply with unifrom regulations. This means for shop floor staff they can buy a black suit, white shirt etc or for selling support a pair of black jeans etc. The items you buy which do meet uniform requirements do not solely have to be used for work so you could get a decent pair of black Prada shoes or a nice suit for nights out. You can only use vouchers for 50% of the purchase value which means you have to pay the other half in your own cash eg £200 pair of shoes (£100 pound vouchers plus £100 in cash). You do not need to use all the vouchers or use them at all if you do not need anything.
Holiday entitlement and sick pay -
As part time worker (one day a week) I am entitled to 4 holidays a year which are taken on a rota basis. I believe full time staff get 20 days holiday a year.
As a student needing to revise for exams in certain periods of the year it is possible to acquire some extra holiday by working some off days. This however depends on your manager's permission.
Sick pay is available to part/full time staff although after a period of a week you have to provide doctors certificate. You are not entitled to sick pay during your initial 12 week probation period at the start of employment.
I think there is a limit to the length of time which you can claim sick pay but this regards a constant claim for a period longer than a year.
One of the main perks for working for Harrods as store support is the availability of overtime. During sale time it is possible to get full time work for the duration of the sale which you will paid at normal rate. This is extremely helpful in enabling me to save up for college fees, car insurance etc.
Also there are times when you can earn time and a half or double pay. It is possible to do overnighters which are when you set up the sale at the beginning of the sale and when you remove the sale fixtures at the end of the sale.
An overnighter is twelve hours long from 7PM Saturday to 7AM Sunday. From 7PM until 10PM you earn time and a half (£12.25) while from 10PM until 7 Am you earn double (£16.36).
You used to be able to do a 24 hour overnighter (eg 7PM Sat until 7PM Sun) which was great as once past 10PM Saturday you were on double pay until you finished Sunday evening. However these have now been stopped by health and safety who rather parentally have declared it is dangerous for the workers.
Finally if your department on odd occasions needs you to stay on after your contracted hours have finished (eg you finish at 3PM but they ask you to stay until 6PM) you will be earning one and a half times pay per every overtime hour.
Break entitlement -
For a 9 hour day you are entitled to 1 hour lunch (unpaid) and 30 min break (paid).
There is also a staff restaurant which serves breakfast and lunch. I make my lunch at home but the few occasions I have been in there the food was cheap and good tasting with a wide variety of dishes (hot and cold) available.
Very little grievances. The shop floor staff toilets can get filthy. However after awhile you get to know where the less frequented toilets are and go there instead.
Also security can be off putting by the seriousness they take their jobs. However along as you do nothing wrong it wont be a problem
Commuting to Harrods can be a pain sometimes. The Piccadilly Line takes you straight there with Knightsbridge the stop to get off at. I start work early in the morning before the shop opens so the trains are not crowded. However going home the trains are always full and sometimes you can't get on.
I also commuted for a time by motorbike which was fairly nice (better than the train). There is plenty of bike bays around Harrods but none with any ground anchors. Some people are eligible to park in Harrods' car park but there are limited spaces available. Also everyone in West London is pretty bike aware so its pretty safe for bikers although you got to watch out for the taxis U-turning outside Harrods. There are also showers at Harrods and depending on specific departments locker rooms to leave kit. Due to the extensive security at Harrods your kit is pretty safe while your working.
Disciplinary procedures -
To my knowledge the process works as follows:-
1. A verbal warning 2. A written warning 3. A final warning 4. Dismissal pending a meeting where you can plead your case
Shop floor staff have a harder time with disciplinary procedures as they have a lot more requirements placed upon them. The only area where I believe problems for store support staff may occur is via lateness or taking too long a break/lunch. Even if you are one minute late this is noted by the powers that be and if this lateness forms a pattern you will get a verbal warning by your manager. You do not get docked pay for being late.
Getting yourself a job -
If you interested in a job at Harrods you can look at the following website - http://www.harrods.com/recruitment/ or make enquires at the recruitment centre mentioned at the start of the review. I do believe that the recruitment centre no longer takes CV's in person but if your in Knightsbridge it is worth going in and talking to someone. Personally I do not know how good the website is for part time jobs which rarely come up but for full time workers it is useful.
Also if you know someone at Harrods then if your write on your application form that they recomended you then after your first six months of employment your friend will get a reward of £500 of store vouchers which I guess you can then share between each other.
You can also instead say I recommended you if you dont know no one and share the free vouchers : - )
Harrods is a great place to work but this experience is very much dependant on which department you get to work in as they all vary and also upon the clear divide in working experience between shop floor staff and store support staff.
I came across this through a Google search, as I was deciding whether or not to apply for a position. Amazing review - makes me want to work at Harrods! I will definately be applying now! Thank you.
KateHurst 11.06.2009 02:04
Excellent review - this covers all the practicalities. I am a bit concerned, as it were, over the "store card" - if I've understood you correctly, this sounds like one of those account cards you often get offered in shops and then get the bill for each month/quarter etc. (But then again, I am a bit anti-credit card. I've always worked on the basis that if places won't take my debit card or my cash, I won't shop there.)
But other than that, I am impressed by how seriously they take training and working hours ie. you can no longer work a 24-hour shift. Very detailed and very insightful.