Somerfield results - Workers

Indicator 3.1 View criteria

Issue: Corporate commitment to labour standards within the company and in the supply chain

Indicator: Board-level responsibility

Somerfield scored full marks for commitment to labour standards with board level responsibility within the company and senior management responsibility for all ethical trading issues.

Ethical trading is managed by Quality Assurance within the company and this combines the approval of suppliers for both technical and ethical purposes.

Indicator 3.2 View criteria

Issue: Labour standards within the company

Indicator: Remuneration of supermarket employees and conditions of employment

The company was unable to supply data for a number of questions and this affected their overall score.

The information provided demonstrates that Somerfield pays checkout operators rates that exceed the National Minimum Wage and has a typical range of benefits on offer to staff - although the company did not provide information on length of service required to qualify for these benefits.

The figures for annual staff turnover for 2002/03 were slightly above those supplied by other supermarkets.


Indicator 3.3 View criteria

Issue: Core labour standards and employee representation

Indicator: UK company employee representation

Here again the company score suffered from lack of data. Although Somerfield says it does not communicate its policies on labour rights and procedures, there are recognised structures in place for consultation over pay and working conditions, which include union representation and pay bargaining.

In addition, lack of data on how staff are represented and on how many are covered by negotiated collective agreements prevented the inclusion of scoring on company provision for staff representatives which is clearly good.

Indicator 3.4 View criteria

Issue: Labour standards in the supply chain

Indicator: Existence and application of labour standards code of conduct

Somerfield has amended its Company Code of Conduct to reflect the content of the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) Base Code with added provision on environmental practices. The Company’s response to the questionnaire and the additional information supplied shows it is developing good practice in this area and demonstrates a positive commitment to the Code which is applied to all suppliers.

There is training for buyers and new technologists on ethical trading issues and on supplier auditing and the company has limited structures in place to monitor implementation. It does not provide any financial assistance to suppliers to help with implementation costs and there is not, as yet, any verification of social audits by third parties. The company is testing systems that involve training Somerfield suppliers to implement ethical trading principles with their own suppliers. It has focused particularly on the produce sector in 2003, covering both UK and global suppliers.

The company admits there are problems with resolving non-compliance but it has procedures in place and aims to improve this area. Somerfield aims to continue to develop the one-day audit tool and to work with ETI members to ensure validity of information.


Overall commentary and examples of good practice

Somerfield’s overall showing was hindered by areas where it was unable to supply data. Clearly there is a commitment to labour standards both within the company and along the supply chain but it is difficult to comment on practice without key information.

The company response was strongest on labour standards in the supply chain and this confirms the development of good practice which is demonstrated by a commitment to training and the development of tools to monitor implementation.

Good practice

Areas for improvement


Supermarket comments

The issue of data on our employees is being addressed with a new IT system. It will be rolled out to our stores over the coming year.


Posted: 26-Nov-2003

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