John Lewis Partnership is to offer an additional week’s paid leave to new foster carers who work at the business so they have more flexibility in their duties.

John Lewis Partnership, which owns grocer Waitrose as well as its eponymous department stores, launched the initiative as part of efforts to support people who have come through the care system, which already includes training and jobs at the retailer. Foster carers also featured in its Christmas advert last year.

The retailer unveiled the change as it became the biggest organisation to receive Foster Friendly Employer status, accredited by the Fostering Network.

John Lewis Partnership chair Dame Sharon White said: “We are incredibly proud to be giving even more support to our partners who are foster carers. They will now qualify for an additional week of paid leave, meaning they will have more flexibility to balance all the things they need to be great foster carers – attending appointments or undertaking training.

“There is a national shortage of foster carers, leaving many children without a stable background and unable to fulfil their potential. We are delighted to be playing our part to support foster carers as part of a broader programme of helping care experienced young people to get access to jobs and training in the partnership.”

Fostering Network director of external affairs Kate Lawson said: “The John Lewis Partnership has done so much to support foster care and provide opportunities for care experienced young people.”