HUNDREDS of workers across the south are set for bumper bonuses this year after a change in tax rules.

Staff at the John Lewis Partnership, which has a flagship store in Southampton’s WestQuay Shopping Centre, will share a £35m boost on top of their bonuses this year after new rules were introduced to encourage firms to hand control to workers.

It means that staff at Waitrose, which is also part of the partnership, are set to benefit too.

It comes as the company announced that it will be cutting back on its Christmas loyalty scheme, with customers receiving fewer free cakes and hot drinks in the run-up to the festive season.

The firm will reveal profit figures next month and is expected to show the impact of new legislation which gives tax-free status to the first £3,600 of staff bonuses at employee-owned companies.

The legislation came into force in April and the Treasury has set aside £75m a year to support changes across the country.

It means that employees earning £15,000 could get about £450 each.

The Employee Ownership Association ranks John Lewis as the biggest employee-owned business in the country, turning over an expected £9.5 billion this year.

Half-year results are expected to be published on September 1.

As reported, the partnership usually gives a bonus of up to two months’ salary, with the pot totalling £203m last year.

Earlier this year the firm revealed that comparable store sales were 5.3 per cent higher at John Lewis and 3.7 per cent up at Waitrose in the first five weeks of the year compared to the previous year.

A spokesman for the Employee Ownership Association said: “Employee-owned businesses achieve higher productivity and greater levels of innovation and are more resilient to economic turbulence.

“They have more fulfilled and less stressed workforces.”