Promoting human rights at Tesco

Last updated: 16/04/2018

As a global retailer we buy, move and sell products through our operations and store network, and our business interacts with millions of people every day. We have a responsibility to respect the human rights of, and an opportunity to make a difference to, our colleagues, our customers, the communities we operate in and the people who work throughout our supply chain.

We are committed to upholding human rights and support in full the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization Core Conventions on labour standards, working hours and health and safety for workers.

To demonstrate our commitment to high standards and transparency in our business, we have joined the UN Global Compact; an initiative for companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. The initiative is centred on ten principles and we will report our progress against these ten principles on a regular basis.

Below we outline our approach to respecting and supporting human rights for colleagues, those in our supply chain, as well as customers and communities.


The wellbeing, security and safety of our colleagues is of utmost important to us a business. We make the right decisions for colleagues by living our value - to treat everyone how they want to be treated. We deliver our Human Rights policy for colleagues in line with local culture and labour laws, whilst ensuring we address any actual or potential adverse impacts our colleagues may experience whilst working for us. We promote a culture of trust and transparency through: 

  • Promoting inclusivity and equality. We value the diverse nature of our workforce across the group and do not accept any discriminatory practices or behaviours. Our employment decisions are made solely on the basis of job-related skills, achievements and performance, which is illustrated in our local diversity and inclusion policies as well as our code of business conduct.
  • Ensuring that working environments across the business do not endanger the health or safety of our colleagues. Looking after our people’s health and wellbeing through enabling safe working environments and ensuring colleagues do not work excessively is a minimum requirement. To support this, we provide health & safety training, have a clear policy position on working hours, and provide protective equipment for colleagues wherever required. Details of which can be found in our Health and Safety policy.
  • Enabling colleagues to have a voice through our fair and trusted methods of resolving concerns. We recognise the importance of trusted and open dialogue between us and our colleagues to create relationships which are built on mutual trust and cooperation. Our relationship with our recognised Trade Union, Usdaw in the UK helps to strengthen this dialogue by having a shared agenda at consultation working parties and colleague national forums.

Supply chain

Building strong partnerships with trusted suppliers will ensure that we deliver high-quality and safe products that are responsibly produced. As a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), we have long been aware of the potential for labour and human rights abuses to occur in our supply chains but also our opportunity to help create good jobs that enable people to care for their families and develop their skills. We recognise that it is our responsibility as a business to respect and enhance the rights of people in those supply chains, in line with the UN Guiding Principles.

Our starting point is the Base Code of the ETI, which covers the right to healthy and safe working conditions and prohibits forced labour, child labour and human trafficking. Upholding the Code is one of the requirements for our suppliers of doing business with Tesco. We are committed to working with trusted supplier partners to apply this Code and to identify where human rights impacts may occur through engaging with our suppliers, NGOs, trade unions and other groups around the world through our team of 45 locally-based responsible sourcing managers.

If human rights issues are identified, we will seek to both address them and understand the root causes of these abuses. We will work with suppliers, and other stakeholder groups to drive improvement.

We also know that many of the serious abuses that exist in countries around the world can be in lower tiers of supply chains, hidden from easy sight and hard to identify – particularly forced labour. Addressing these requires collaborative efforts with other businesses and civil society. Through our membership of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) we have recently therefore committed to working to eradicate forced labour from our supply chains, and have taken on a leading role within the CGF to develop this work.

Governance and monitoring

Our governance committees consider financial and non-financial risks to our business and the Compliance and Social Responsibility Committees in particular consider risks related to our Human Rights Policy, which are maintained on our company risk register. Key elements of our Human Rights Policy are incorporated into our Code of Business Conduct which is reviewed by our senior managers once a year. All colleagues sign Code of Business Conduct Declarations every year. All Commercial and Technical UK Food colleagues also attend a Responsible Sourcing training to build awareness and knowledge.

Our established ‘protector line’ is a free professional, confidential and secure service that enables our colleagues, suppliers and their staff to raise concerns to be raised at the earliest stage via telephone and email. Issues are recorded, investigated and where necessary action is taken.