Tesco, the UK's largest private-sector employer, will grant colleagues new flexible working rights almost a year ahead of an expected change in the law from the government.
The supermarket will give more than 300,000 colleagues, from the shop floor to its offices, the right to request a flexible working pattern from their first day on the job rather than waiting six months under current employment law.
This move demonstrates Tesco's commitment to embracing a flexible approach to working patterns to help colleagues strike a successful work-life balance and enable them to devote enough time to childcare or caring commitments.
The grocer already has a large proportion of part-time colleagues and has introduced a new requirement that all full-time advertised positions will be available as flexible or full-time, and across all roles, a range of different part-time or flexible working options can be discussed.
The government is expected to change the rules around flexibility in Spring 2024, introducing the right to request flexible working from day one. As a responsible employer, Tesco has decided to immediately reflect the government's aim to support colleagues' different needs. Making this available for colleagues from day one of employment will give them more choice and flexibility in their working patterns and help to attract and retain talent.
To ensure colleagues' certainty and flexibility, the grocer is also the only major UK supermarket that contractually guarantees colleagues a minimum of 16 hours a week to recruits* and the right to request a contract reflecting their working hours if they work regular overtime.
Store manager Mel Gutteridge, who works at the Tesco Express in Seaford, East Sussex, values the flexibility of her role with Tesco and welcomes the right to request flexible working from the first day. She works four days a week to allow her a balance between work and home life with her partner and children, Kaci, 15, and Sophie, 10.
Gutteridge stated that for her, flexibility has allowed her to progress and work her way up to store manager while navigating family life.
"By working part-time, I can find the right balance between time spent at home with my family and time spent on my personal development and career progression," said Gutteridge.
The new right is the latest development from Tesco to boost its employment offer to existing colleagues and recruits. Earlier this month, it announced a new benefit for colleagues and their immediate family - unlimited appointments with a virtual GP seven days a week to give them added flexibility in managing their health.
Appointments can be an online video consultation with a doctor via smartphone, tablet or computer, or a phone call, giving access to a GP anywhere, at any time needed.
Tesco colleagues are also able to access an expanded range of emotional well-being support through its Employee Assistance Programme, including access to sleep therapists, nutritionists, counsellors, exercise coaches and physiotherapists.
In November, the UK grocer launched another new benefit called Pay Advance, enabling colleagues to get up to 25 percent of their contractual pay early. This is in addition to the wealth of help and advice Tesco offers its colleagues to help with their financial well-being.
This expanded focus on colleague well-being comes after Tesco made its biggest-ever investment in colleague pay over the past year, with an increase totalling a more than 15 percent pay rise to bring the hourly rate to £11.02. Tesco also gives colleagues a 10 percent discount on groceries, which increases to 15 percent every payday weekend.
James Goodman, Tesco UK People Director, said that the supermarket believes giving people the right to start a conversation about flexible working from their first day, or even before they start work for Tesco, was the right thing to do to give colleagues the opportunity for a healthy work-life balance.
"We aim to create a positive culture at Tesco where managers will do as much as possible to facilitate these requests for flexibility," said Goodman.