Marks & Spencer is to award frontline store and supply chain staff a 15% pay rise and furloughed employees will receive full pay during the coronavirus pandemic.

M&S will increase pay from Monday and the rise will remain in place until the end of May when it will be reviewed in light of government advice.

Marks & Spencer plastic face shield

Marks & Spencer is distributing plastic face shields to store staff

The retailer said the higher salaries were in recognition of the work staff are doing “to support their teams and the national effort to help customers access the products they need during these unprecedented times”.

M&S also said staff on furlough – which is voluntary at present but can be taken by frontline staff with caring commitments or who are vulnerable to the infection – will continue to be paid in full.

Employees who are self-isolating are already entitled to 14 days on full pay while people who are pregnant, over 70 or who have particular health conditions are being paid in full for 12 weeks.

This week, the retailer will also distribute protective plastic face shields to store staff. Wearing them will be voluntary. M&S said the reusable shields are preferable to disposable clinical masks because they are easy to clean and do need frequent adjustment, which can result in “unnecessary face touching”.

M&S retail and operations director Sacha Berendji said: M&S fully supports the government’s efforts to protect our NHS and save lives. We are actively encouraging social distancing in our food halls and have already introduced a number of measures to help colleagues stay healthy and enable customers to shop for the essentials they need with confidence. The latest measure is the introduction of reusable face shields, which will be distributed to our hard-working teams this week.”