Sainsbury’s is putting £20m into a fresh pay rise for staff “to support them with rising household costs”.

It is the first time the supermarket giant has handed staff an autumn pay increase outside of the annual pay review – a decision it described as an “unprecedented step”. 

Sainsbury’s said 127,000 hourly paid colleagues across stores, local fulfilment centres and customer service contact centres would receive a 25p per hour increase from October.  

The base hourly pay rate for employees across the Sainsbury’s and Argos businesses will increase from £10 to £10.25, and from £11.05 to £11.30 for those working in London.

The move means frontline colleagues will have received a 7.9% increase in pay since the start of this year and a 28% hike over the past five years. 

Sainsbury’s will invest a further £5m into a broader “support package” for workers, providing them with “basic food items” during all shifts worked during the golden quarter, and increasing the staff discount at both Sainsbury’s and Argos.  

The grocer said the discounts would “help colleagues plan and manage their budgets through the autumn and in the run-up to Christmas”.

Sainsbury’s boss Simon Roberts said: “Every day, I am hearing from colleagues who are really feeling the pressures of the rising cost of living. That’s why we are doing everything we can to help our colleagues as they face rising bills and living costs this autumn by investing £25m into a package of support, including an early pay increase. This is the first time we have given two pay rises in the same year.

“Our top priority is to support our customers and colleagues. We are proud of our track record on colleague pay and, with this latest package of an additional pay rise, free food at work and bigger colleague discounts, we are very focused on doing as much as we can to help our colleagues and their families through this autumn and winter.”