Tesco is giving all 300,000 of its employees the right to request flexible working with immediate effect – almost a year ahead of the introduction of a new law.
The supermarket’s policy will allow any member of staff, from shop-floor to office workers, to make a request from their first day of employment, rather than after six months of service as is currently the case.
According to Tesco, which is the UK’s largest private-sector employer, the move demonstrates its “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 Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill received Royal Assent last month (July), giving millions of people the right to request flexible working arrangements from their first day of employment. However, it is not expected to come into effect until spring 2024.
A large proportion of the grocer’s staff already work part-time, and it has now introduced a requirement for all roles that are being advertised as full-time to be made available as flexible positions as well. Additionally, it is offering employees the chance to discuss part-time and flexible options within their current jobs.
Tesco said it had decided to implement the new policy immediately to support the workforce and give people greater choice and flexibility in their working patterns, and well as help the business attract and retain talent.
The supermarket has also committed to guaranteeing that contracts for new joiners offer a minimum of 16 hours a week and that they have the right to request a contract that reflects their real working hours if they regularly work overtime.
Other benefits introduced by the business in recent months include unlimited virtual GP appointments, accessible seven days a week, and a pay advance service that gives staff early access to up to 25% of their contractual pay.
James Goodman, Tesco UK people director, said:“We think giving people the right to start a conversation about flexible working from their first day, or even before they start work for Tesco, is 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 they can to facilitate these requests for flexibility.”