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I decided to take a gap year after my A levels and go travelling for a couple of months. To do this I needed a better paid job and more hours than what I had. I applied at my local Tescos knowing that it was well paid and easy work (as many of my friends worked there during 6th form).
The application form is similar to most others I had seen with qualifications, availability, etc but at the back there is a multiple choice questionnaire describing yourself which I found quite confusing as the answers are really similar and you get a score which, if you fail, they don't even give you an interview.
Luckily I passed and was contacted within the week as they desperately needed employers and I was interviewed that week. After going over the basics I was invited back for an induction which is fully paid and lasts around 4 hours.
The uniform is supplied and how many shirts etc you get depends on how often you work. For example, I got 3 shirts and 2 pairs of trousers for a 36.5 hour a week shift (which is their full time shift). I was also given a pair of gloves and a fleece as I was put on provisions (the fridge area, dairy, yoghurts, meat etc). The trousers are plain black, the shirt is blue checked with a bit of yellow and the fleece is plain dark navy. The uniform isn't very fashionable but everyone wears the same and it's comfortable.
You can be trained on other departments if you wish and being "multi-skilled" can increase your hourly rate (although I don't know by how much). Checkouts are the most popular to be trained on for this however, this requires you to go on them every time it gets busy which can be a hassle.
The pay isn't bad for the job, the starting salary for 18 and over is £5.53 which goes up to £5.80 after 6 months and then £6.03 after a year. I don't know what the pay is for under 18s but I do know that the raise applies to them so if you start when your 17 and you turn 18 after you've been there 6 months your pay automatically goes up to £5.80. There is a 10pm-12am and 12am-8am premium on top of your rate which I don't know as I have never worked these hours, they are around £2 extra an hour. The downside for new workers is that if you started before 2004 you get pay + half for overtime over 36.5 hours but not if you started after 2004.
The training is very basic, they make you watch a few boring videos (similar to ones I watched at another supermarket that I worked at) which show you how to talk to customers, dealing with thieves etc. They also show you where all the fire exits are and how to handle the equipment that applies to your department. Every so often you have to go upstairs and answer some common sense questions, mainly on safety.
As I said earlier, I work on provisions so I will describe what it is like working on this department. When I first started, I was simply stacking shelves and this was…. Well, stacking shelves, you just pull cages out from the back fridges and fill the shelf, taking in mind to rotate the dates. We also did milk which was similar although the milk had its own fridge and cages which where a lot smaller and easier to control. The worst stacking was the eggs for obvious reasons, if you dropped them they didn't just roll a few centre metres, they left a big mess! After working there a few months I started other small tasks, reducing products that went out of date that day and scanning out damaged and out of date products. These two activities involved a small machine called a PDA, which was easy to pick up as it was simply a hand held computer. I also started getting labels for products which was easy as you just scanned the product in an office upstairs and out popped the label (from a printer of course).
They have recently changed my job to permanently on reductions and waste as there was too much stock being missed and ending up being thrown out, so they needed some one to do it full time. It just means I have to be a lot more thorough but it beats lifting heavy boxes on and off cages all day!
As I said before I work 36.5 hours a week, these are 10am-7pm Mondays, 10.15am-7pm Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays and 9.15am-6pm Saturdays. At first there was plenty of overtime available which helped with my saving, especially with Sundays being pay and a half (by the way) and during Christmas I worked over 50 hours two weeks. Recently there has been an overtime ban as they have gone over budget and now no one can get it even if they are short staffed.
The breaks are unpaid and vary depending on your hours. For 4 hours you get 15 minutes, 6 hours you get half an hour and for 8.5 hours you get an hour and a half, based on shifts I have worked.
The benefits at tesco's are one of the best around, especially for long time workers, after a year you get a Privilege card which entitles you to 10% discount ob your shopping. After 3 months you can opt to have a proportion of you wage put into tesco shares which can be accessed anytime but are tax free after 5 years. After a year you receive free shares to a percentage of your wage, these are held for you for 5 years and then you can claim them tax free! There are many other benefits but I have no use for them as I will be leaving soon, the three above are considered the best benefits tesco's offers.
Equipment For a multi-billion £ business I have found that tescos put off getting new equipment until the very last minute. The cages are the worst, almost half of them don't move properly and we even get some without wheels so we have to transfer everything off and onto another which I thought should be done before it is loaded onto the lorry and brought here! Even the lorries seem to break down all the time, on 3 occasions in my 6 months a lorry has broken down and they haven't fixed it until 12 hours later. Another problem is the PDAs and printers for reductions, there are 2 printers in store and 2 departments use them all day however another 2 need them for a couple of hours everyday. At one point we had 1 printer that didn't even work properly, the PDAs constantly break and because of budgeting they never get new ones in. Also the gloves disintegrate within 4 months. I wouldn't be winging so much but the store had a major re-fit 6 months ago, they seem to have just improved everything the customers can see and forgotten about the necessary equipment needed by the workers, I have been told by other employees that it has always been that way at tescos.
The working atmosphere at my tesco's is generally good, I get on with all my colleagues and we have a laugh. Everyone is willing to help one another while also letting you get on with your job. The managers are another thing, my manager is always forgetting to get stuff done like process holidays and sort problems out, other departments have said the same. The managers also seem to do nothing. Everyday they stand and talk with one another at the ends of aisles until they have their "team 5" which is when we have to bring everything on the shelves forward so that it looks neat. I get on with a couple of managers but there are a couple that seem to think you can get impossible amounts of work done in "5 minutes" and others that are hypocrites when it comes to doing some work. There tends to be a lot more managers and supervisors at tesco's than I see at other stores. At my store there are managers for every different type of product nearly.
The staff restaurant is extremely good value. You can get a cooked meal for 67p which my eyes lit up to when I first heard! The vending machine is also great, cans of pop are 30p, crisps 20p and chocolate bars 10p-20p. There is no separate smoking area though, the canteen is quite small and one end is smoking while the other is non-smoking.
The prospects at tesco's are financially bad in the long term but it is easy to move up in positions. You can become a team leader or supervisor very easily but the pay does not improve substantially, I was recently talking with colleagues about this and a departmental manager gets under £16000 annually which isn't that good considering the responsibility. Only higher managers receive significant benefits and they all have business degrees!
It is easy to get a transfer to another store which many students do for when they go off to university or if some one moves. There are also career breaks available, as long as you've worked for tesco's for over 2 years you can take up to 5 years off and when you go back you will be given all your previous benefits, rather than starting as a new employee.
Overall I think tescos is a good employer for part time work and short time work, it is excellent for students or for people on gap years like me. I wouldn't recommend it for people wanting financial benefits by moving up as you will find yourself as a supervisor on a basic salary needing a degree to go any higher.