Tesco has launched a novel recruitment scheme to provide temporary Christmas jobs to unemployed friends and family members of its staff.

According to a survey by the retailer, almost 20% of staff claimed to have a friend or relative who had become unemployed in the past 12 months. As part of the scheme, existing Tesco workers will be able to refer their friends or relatives for one of 6,000 temporary jobs set to be created by Tesco this Christmas.

"This year we want to give extra support to our staff's friends and families over the festive period," said Lorna Bryson, head of resourcing UK operations. "By offering these temporary roles we hope to provide our staff and their relatives with extra help, supporting those who have been most affected by the economic downturn."

"Christmas is our busiest time of year and as a result we always increase staffing. Many employees like to take on extra shifts to help ease the financial burden and we also offer students the opportunity to transfer from where they work in term time to a store near their home during the period. We always explore these options before looking to hire externally."

Tesco is the latest in a string of retailers planning to create jobs over Christmas. Last week Sainsbury's said it planned to create 20,000 temporary roles, while M&S pledged the same number last month.