Review of "Tesco"

published 09/06/2006 | tia_bailey
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 70
Members who trust : 0
About me :
Pro Good pay, great benefits package
Cons Crap uniform, crap managers
very helpful
Range of duties
Knowledge gained

"Working for Tesco"

Ok, first of all, I'd just like to mention, this is a looooooooooooong review, so if you're not actually interested in reading about Tesco as an employer, then I'd suggest you don't bother as it will take some patience to get through!

When I left school at the age of 18, and having decided I couldn't be bothered with university, I suddenly had to face the big bad world and go and find myself a job. I wasn't really fussy about what job I did - I've never been ambitious, and simply wanted a job where I could go to work, do my job, come home and not have to think about it.

As our local Tesco is just 5 minutes away, I decided to apply there. I wrote a letter requesting an application form, and a few days later received a lovely letter and the form I had asked for. I read through the form and thought, wow, I don't know how to answer these questions! Most of them seemed completely irrelevant, and needed to be based on experience of work, which I didn't have any of! Nevertheless, I filled in the form as best I could, and sent it back. I then received a letter requesting I attend an 'informal' interview with the duty manager on nights.

In the interview, which really did seem very informal, I was asked why I wanted to work for Tesco, why I think I'd be suited to the job, and more questions along these lines, before being taken down onto the shop floor to do a work sample. This work sample was supposed to last for 30 minutes and would apparently show whether or not I was suited to the job. The reality was that the manager went off and left me with 2 of the staff, who spent 10 minutes trying to remember what the 5 point check is, before calling back the manager to ask him. The manager, not being able to remember himself what the 5 point is, decided that was enough and took me back up to the office where he told me I'd got the job. 'Wow' I thought, 'That was easy!'.

The Induction

A few days after being told I'd got the job, I attended my induction. I was paid to attend this induction at my normal hourly rate, and it lasted about 4 hours. The purpose of the induction is basically to give you an introduction to the company, it's history, and it's values, as well as explaining things like your pay, holiday entitlements, absence policies and the like. There are also a few silly 'getting to know each other' games which they like to play in these inductions, just to introduce all the new staff to each other and to make you feel more comfortable. At the end of the induction you should be given a letter detailing the hours you'll be working, and your pay, and a load of leaflets and handbooks which they urge you to read as soon as possible.

Initial Training

Now, when I first started working at Tesco, our particular store was useless when it came to training. The store was in the middle of a major re-fit, and everyone's priorities seemed to lie elsewhere. My 'training' consisted of my manager giving me a case knife, pointing to a cage and saying, 'work that'. However, normal procedures for training should be that you are shown by a manager or team leader what you're supposed to be doing (obviously this will depend on what job you are doing), and then you should be put with a 'training buddy', who will work with you and help you for the first 2 weeks or so, or until you are ready to be left to work alone.

In the 3 years I have worked at Tesco, there have been many people who've been employed on my department (grocery nights) and simply left to their own devices and given no training whatsoever, but there have also been groups of people that have actually been given proper training. To be honest, I don't think it matters which category you fall into, as if you've been given no training, your colleagues will usually be willing to help you out, and tell you if you're not doing things right, and if you have been given the training, you'll probably find that it's impossible to work the way you're told you're supposed to work (training obviously devised by those who sit at desks all day and have clearly never had to do the work themselves), and your colleagues will show you how we actually work in the real world!

The Job

Obviously there are many different jobs at Tesco, from checkouts to stock control, deli to non-food, and grocery to in-store bakery, to name a few. Personally I work nights on grocery, which means shelf stacking. The job is not particularly interesting, I'm not about to start raving about how enjoyable I find putting tins of baked beans on shelves, but I think it's definitely the job that suits me best. Constantly dragging cages and lugging cases of tins around all night keeps me fit, I don't have to use my brain too much or take my work home with me but it's less repetitive and monotonous than sitting scanning things through the checkouts all day, and as I'm on the shop floor, I still get to interact with people. However, it does have it's down sides - I'm constantly covered in cuts and bruises from banging cases into my legs or cutting myself on cardboard, the problems I've always had with my knees have got worse from always kneeling on the floor, my skin is horrendous because of all the muck in the place, and the you wouldn't believe the amount of times I've run over my foot with a heavy cage! It can be hard work, especially over seasonal periods when it's busier, but generally the work is manageable.

No matter what department you are employed on, it is stated in your contract that you may be asked to work on other departments within the store. Now obviously if you're not checkout trained, they're not just going to plonk you on checkouts, but for instance if you work on grocery, you may be asked to cover move across to produce, freezers, or fresh, to cover when they're short.

I know most people would probably cringe at the thought of working nights, but I actually quite enjoy it. As there are less people coming in on a night, it's easy to get to know the customers that come in regularly, and it's always nice to have a proper chat with them, rather than just the same few lines you tend to get into the habit of saying to customers you don't know. But on the other hand, I would quite like my social life back!

The Hours

One of the great things about Tesco is that they're very flexible when it comes to hours. They like to be able to give you the hours you need, so whether you're a single mum looking for a few hours of weekend work, or someone looking for full-time hours, they're sure to be able to accommodate you. On the application form is a section which asks you to tell them all the hours you're available to work, so if you're offered the job, they will work around this. One thing to note, however, is that they don't seem to like giving out full-time contracts, partly because they prefer to employ 2 part-time staff who will then be able to cover extra nights as overtime, than one full-time staff who is then limited to what overtime they can work.

When I started at Tesco, my contracted hours were 9pm - 6am Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Since then I've swapped and changed my shifts round a few times, and also taken on an extra shift, so I'm now contracted to 9pm-6am Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, and 7:30pm to 2:30am Sunday.

Now, I know generally that anything over 30 hours a week is considered full-time, but at Tesco for some reason this is different. To them, full-time is classed as 36.5 hours and above. And whilst you may think this doesn't really matter, it does affect certain things such as break entitlements and overtime rates.

As well as contracted hours, there are usually plenty of overtime shifts available, so if you need a bit of extra money, it's not usually a problem getting the extra hours to cover it. However, I have a tendency to be too soft, and work every overtime shift they ask me to do, often working 6 or 7 nights a week when they need me to, and then suddenly there'll be an overtime ban and nobody can get the overtime when they need it. So it is often worth grabbing the overtime while it's there, because you never know when they'll suddenly stop it!


When I first started working for Tesco 3 years ago, my basic hourly rate was £4.79, which although it doesn't sound much now, was better than any other supermarket in Britain. You get a pay rise after working with the company for 6 months, and the company has a pay review every year to make sure they're keeping up with inflation and various other factors. For me this meant that after my first year, my basic hourly rate had risen to £5.55, and in the 3 years I've been with the company it's risen further to £5.84. Tesco is proud to stay the highest paying major supermarket in Britain.

As well as this basic rate, there are various other rates which you get for working certain hours. There are 2 different night premiums - one for hours worked between 10pm and 12pm, and one for hours worked between 12pm and 8am. There is also a separate premium for hours worked on a Sunday, and for any overtime you work which takes you above 36.5 hours for that week. I'm not sure the exact amounts of any of these premiums, however I know they all tend to be somewhere between £1 and £1.30 (at the moment - these premiums also change with the annual pay review), except for the Sunday premium, which is a bit more. When you attend the annual pay review meeting, you should be given a sheet with all the new amounts on (but as yet, I've never managed to get hold of one of these).


We've just had our annual pay review, with changes to take effect from 2nd July 2006. The new basic hourly rate for established staff will be £6.01 for grade c staff (General/customer assistants), £6.15 for d grade staff (fishmongers/delivery service assistants), and £6.52 for e grade staff (skilled bakers). The night premiums will increase to £1.22 for hours worked between 10pm and 12pm, and £1.81 for hours worked between 12pm and 8am. And this year i actually managed to get hold of one of the print-outs!


The only thing with the pay is, the premiums especially do depend on when you joined the company. I joined at a time when overtime above 36.5 hours was paid at basic rate+£1.75, but this has since been changed so that anyone who joins now just gets single time.

There are also certain jobs within Tesco which pay at a higher rate, the most obvious being managers and team leaders, but also skilled jobs such as baker, backdoor man, and security. There are also other things you can train to do, which, no matter what your job title is, will give you a little extra pay, such as becoming a first aider or a union representative.

Tesco pay their staff 4-weekly, by BACS payment to their bank account. You should receive a wage-slip on the Friday you are paid, and the payment will have already gone into your bank account at 12pm Thursday. I have always been paid promptly (as I work nights I often go out to the cash machine at 12pm to check the payment has gone in) the exact amount on my payslip.

The payslips however, can be very difficult to understand. In the whole of the night shift at our store (28 people), I'm one of just 3 people who actually understand the payslips. It is really worth getting to understand your payslip however, as I don't know if it's as much of a problem in other stores or whether our wages clerk is just useless, but they're always getting wages wrong, especially if you do a lot of overtime. In all the time I've worked there, I've only ever had one wage-slip that was 100% correct, and, ironically enough, this was when they'd said they weren't paying anyone the overtime they'd worked as they'd overspent for the month, yet my overtime was all present and correct, for the first time ever!


Breaks - Breaks at Tesco are unpaid, and the amount and length of breaks you are allowed will depend on the hours you work. Generally, you should get half an hours break per 4 hours worked, so if you work 8 hours, you'll have an hours break. However, if you're full-time (36.5 hours or more per week) you will be entitled to longer breaks than part-time staff.
I usually work 9-6, which means that as I'm contracted for 30.5 hours, I get an hours breaks during the 9 hour shift. Then on a Sunday, I work 7:30-2:30, and get half an hours break in the 7.5 hour shift.
When you can take your breaks is dependant on which department you work on, and how many people there are to cover breaks.

Holidays - As a Tesco employee, you are entitled to start taking paid holiday after 3 months service. Your holiday entitlement depends on how many days you work, but essentially it starts off as equivalent to 4 times days worked, plus 1 or 2 extra days (e.g. - I work 4 days a week, and am entitled to 18 days holiday). Then, after 5 years service, you start to accrue extra holiday days based on how many years you have been with the company.
Procedures for booking holidays are quite simple, you simply fill in a form with the dates you wish to book and hand it to your section manager, who will then decide whether they can let you have it off or not , and hand it back to you.
The only problem I've found with holidays is that, especially on nights where there are only a few of you anyway, it can be very difficult to get holidays when you want them, school holidays being particularly bad. On nights they run a policy of only 2 people off per shift, however, in my experience, they will try and work around this as best they can, especially if you need the holiday for something important.

Sick pay - The amount of weeks paid sickness you are entitled to is dependant on how long you've worked for Tesco. If you've been with the company less than six months, you are not entitled to any sick pay. At 6 months service, you are entitled to 1 weeks paid sickness, then it rises by a week for every year you stay with the company, up to a maximum of 16 weeks.
As I've been with the company 3 years, I am entitled to 4 weeks paid sickness per year, which is paid from the first day of sickness. However, the policy has recently changed, and people who join the company now will not be paid for the first 3 days of sickness. This has been brought in to try to stop people abusing the system.


The benefits package has to be one of the best things about working for Tesco, and makes it worth sticking with the company.

Privilegecard - You get a Privilegecard after working with Tesco for a year. The card acts as your Tesco ClubCard, earning you 1 point per £ on all your shopping at Tesco, as well as acting as a discount card, giving you a 10% discount when you spend £3 or more at Tesco. The discount can be used on shopping up to the value of £6750 in any one year (1st April to 31st March), allowing you to save up to £675 a year off your shopping. If you are not the person in your household who does the shopping, you can transfer the card into your partners name, so that they can claim the discount.

Shares in Success - After working for Tesco for a year, you are eligible for the Shares in Success scheme. This is a scheme in which Tesco gives you free shares to the value of a certain percentage of your earnings. The shares are held for 5 years, after which you can take them out of the trust without having to pay tax on them.

Save as You Earn - Open to anyone who's worked at Tesco for at least a year, the Save as You Earn scheme gives you the chance to save an amount of your own choice, which comes out of your wage every month, for either a 3-year or 5-year period. At the end of this period you receive a tax-free bonus amount, and have the option to use the money to buy Tesco shares at a discounted price.

Buy as You Earn - This is another share scheme, but is open to anyone who's worked at Tesco for at least 3 months. You choose an amount which is deducted from your pre-tax pay, to buy shares at the current market price. The shares are held in trust until you decide to withdraw them, and if you leave them in the trust for 5 years, you won't have to pay tax on them.

Pension Scheme - You can join the pension scheme regardless of how long you have worked at Tesco. You pay in 4% of your pre-tax earnings, and Tesco pays in more than twice this amount on your behalf. The scheme also gives you the option to take out a tax-free lump sum on retirement, and pays a pension to your partner and any dependant children in the case of your death before retirement.

Life Assurance - Even if you are not a member of the pension scheme, as an Tesco employee you are covered by life assurance, which means that if you die whilst employed by Tesco, the person you nominate will receive a lump sum payment equal to your annual earnings. If you are in the pension scheme, the payment will be 3 times your annual earnings.

Those detailed above are what I consider to be the most important benefits, however, there are many others including discounted Everyday Health Plan, which covers things like dental and optical treatment, physiotherapy, hospital treatment etc, Dental Cover, Private Medical Insurance, Personal Accident Protection, discounts on Tesco Personal Finance products, discounted tax advice, holiday discounts, gym discounts, and exclusive to staff offers such as £5 off clothing voucher.

Personally, I think the Benefits package Tesco offer is brilliant. The 10% discount is obviously very useful, though I do often forget to hand my card to the person on checkouts, but they're usually good enough to remind me! I receive a benefits report every year, which tells me exactly how much my benefits are worth, which is really helpful, and it was a pleasant surprise to find that this time last year I'd already built up a pension of £127 a year, and received 150 free shares, which at today's market price are worth about £480!


As soon as you begin working with Tesco you will be given the chance to join Usdaw, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers. You can join from as little as £1.10 per week, and receive all the following benefits:

Free advice on pay, conditions of employment, grievances and disciplinaries
Free legal assistance for any accident in the UK
Free will, conveyancing, probates
Free health and safety and pensions advice
Free cash benefits for times of need (e.g.- sickness grants, maternity grants, death grants, etc)
Free union education and training

There will be at least one union representative in your store, who you can go to for help and advice on any work/union related issue.

I have not personally had any need to go to the union, but a number of my colleagues have gone to them for advice and found them to be very helpful. One person in particular has had many dealings with the union, and they have helped him to get compensation for several accidents at work. Overall they seem to give a very professional service.


Uniforms and any equipment needed to do your job are provided free to you by Tesco. However, they do not like to give uniforms to temporary staff, so you will have to wear your own clothes (usually black trousers, white shirt/top, black cardigan/jumper) until you receive a permanent contract. Then you will usually have to wait months after putting in a uniform request before you actually get one, as they have to be ordered in. In my experience it seems to always take at least 3 months to get a new uniform, but this may differ from store to store.
The uniform consists of blue trousers or skirt, blue or red checked shirts (unless you're a manager, in which case the shirts are plain pastelly blue or dusky pink), and optional jumpers, waistcoats and fleeces. They also provide safety shoes if you need them, but otherwise you will have to provide your own black shoes.
The first problem I have with the uniform is that I'm allergic to the trousers. I only had to wear them for 15 minutes before they brought me out in a rash, so I reverted back to wearing my own black trousers. I have been told by our personnel manager on several occasions that they do 'anti-allergy' trousers and that she'll order some in for me, but as yet I have never received any.
The second problem I have is that the buttons on the shirts are not fixed tightly enough, which to a lot of people may not be a problem, but when you're stacking shelves and constantly lifting things up onto your stomach/chest, the buttons do have a tendency to ping off. At the moment I don't have a single shirt with all it's buttons left. I've also given up on sewing them back on, as they just come off again, and now I simply use safety pins instead!
The third problem with the uniforms, though I have not experienced this myself, is that the amount of items you are entitled to depends upon the amount of days you are contracted for. If you are contracted for 3 days, you are apparently only allowed one pair of trousers and 2 shirts, which is just not sufficient. However, I have always got around this problem as I've done a lot of overtime since day 1, so my manager put in a special request to get me 3 pairs of trousers and 3 shirts. And although I don't wear the trousers, every time I put in a uniform request, I always ask for 3 shirts, and I always receive 3, much to the annoyance of everyone else, who's only got 1 shirt!

A new uniform is being trialled at the moment, and should be coming into stores in the near future, so hopefully they'll get it right this time!

Much the same as the uniform, it can take absolutely ages to get the equipment you need to do your job. I personally have been working with a very blunt case knife for the last 3 months as every time I ask for a new one, 'they're on order'. A friend of mine who works on freezers has been asking for some proper freezer gloves for months, and has had various responses. One manager has tried his best to order them, but the wrong things keep getting sent in, another manager told him to get some gardening gloves off the shop floor, and another simply told him he'd have to do without!

Working Environment

Your working environment will obviously vary from job to job, so here I refer to the stores in general. I often find the conditions I'm working in are not the best, as it tends to get extremely hot in-store, especially when the store is shut. This can make it very difficult to work as effectively as normal when your job is as physical as mine. The air-conditioning can also be a pain, when it's actually working, as it tends to leave you with a very dry mouth and throat, and I've heard numerous people complaining that it makes their eyes sore. The stores are generally clean, but when you work whilst the cleaners are in like I do, and see them cleaning around the mess on the floor instead of cleaning it up, it makes you wonder just how clean things actually are. I've often gone to get something from underneath one of the fixtures to find a layer of dust nearly an inch thick under there…………..maybe that's why I seem to be constantly sneezing whilst I'm at work!
In general I don't think it's one of the best environments to work in, but it's not bad enough to make me look for work elsewhere.

Staff Restaurant

In the staff restaurant you can buy hot or cold meals and drinks, but you will need a Cardinal Card. Your Cardinal Card is a card which you put money onto, which you then use to pay for anything you buy from the staff restaurant and vending machines.
The menu in the staff restaurant is varied, and complimented by a variety of chocolate bars, crisps and snacks in the vending machines. You can get free tea and coffee from the drinks machines, or hot chocolate for 20p. There are also water and squash dispensers which you are free to use as you wish.
The setup of the staff restaurant will differ from store to store, but should consist of a main area with dining tables and chairs, and a coffee lounge area, with comfy chairs and coffee tables. Some stores also have a big screen TV in the staff restaurant.

Now my experience of the staff restaurant will differ to that of many Tesco staff, the main reason being that I work nights. When I first came to work at Tesco, there were no meals on a night, all you could get was whatever was in the vending machines, which were usually empty. The water and squash dispensers were never filled for nights, so we were basically left with hot drinks as our only option. After years of complaining about this, we now finally have hot meals on nights, though they are somewhat lacking in variety - usually a choice between fried breakfast, toast, or tuna and salad.

Career Prospects

Tesco make it very easy, in fact too easy in my humble opinion, to move up the proverbial ladder. There are several different schemes run within the company to give you the training you will need to move up in the company. The most common of these is Options, which gives you the training you need to become a manager. There are also fast-track schemes which are for people with more academic qualifications or management experience. It is extremely easy to become a manager in a relatively short time with Tesco, which is great if you want to develop your career, but unfortunately leaves us with loads of managers who don't seem to have a clue what they're supposed to be doing!


If your circumstances change and you need to move towns, you can request a transfer to another store. As long as your absence is less than 3% and your manager gives you a good review, you should be able to transfer as soon as a job becomes available. And if you like travelling, why not apply for a transfer to one of Tesco's over-seas stores? Who knows, you could end up working for Tesco in Calais or Thailand!

Career Breaks

Tesco runs a career break scheme, which lets you take time out from work for academic study, travel, or prolonged illness. You can take a career break after 2 years working for Tesco, and you can take anywhere between 3 months and 5 years off. At the end of your career break, Tesco will re-employ you, though you might not be able to work the same job or the same hours, and you will be credited with all your previous service and related benefits.


As within any company, you will find one or two people who just don't seem to get on with anyone, but on the whole I think everyone tends to get along well with each other. If you work during the day, you're more likely not to get to know everybody, as there are a lot of people, many of whom you'll probably never or rarely see. On nights, as it's a much smaller team, everyone is much more likely to know everyone else, and get along well as a team.


As I mentioned earlier, the fact that it's so easy to get into management at Tesco means that there are plenty of managers who don't have a clue what to do. On the other hand, there are some extremely good managers who know their stuff, are willing to muck in when they're needed, and who you can go to for advice and support. Unfortunately, in my personal experience, there are not enough of the latter.

Overall opinion

My overall opinion of Tesco as an employer is a good one. Even if I decide to follow another career, I will still keep a few hours on at Tesco, as it's so worth it for the benefits you receive just for being an employee. The job itself is not too demanding, and though I know for some people this may be a good enough reason not to work there, for me it's just what I need. I do, as I think anyone does, have my bad days where one of the managers is constantly on my case and I just think 'why do I do this?', but the answer is simple - good pay, enjoyable work, excellent benefits, and a whole different aspect to my social life! I intend to stay with the company for years to come, and would highly recommend Tesco as an employer to anyone.

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Comments on this review

  • jjcross published 31/08/2010
    Good review.
  • clairemg published 10/06/2008
    excellent review.
  • fosbrook6695 published 20/02/2008
    Very informative and well written!
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Product Information : Tesco

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