Sports Direct responds to criticism of working practices

2016-01-19 chris posted:

It was reported that temporary workers at Sports Direct were receiving effective hourly rates of pay below the national minimum wage due to strict working practices, including frequent body searches and wage deductions for lateness. Up to 5,000 employees at the retailers warehouse in Shirebrook were kept onsite and subjected to body searches at the end of every shift, which took up to 15 minutes and is unpaid. The practices contribute to staff being paid an effective rate of around £6.50 an hour against the statutory rate of £6.70.

The Guardian investigation also revealed that warehouse staff are "harangued" over tannoy announcements for not working fast enough, and warned they will be sacked if they receive six strikes over a period of six months for offences including "excessive/long toilet breaks" and "time wasting".

Sports Direct denied naming and shaming workers over a warehouse tannoy and denied penalising ill staff. However, Sports Direct did admit that it searched staff leaving warehouses. The Guardian, following an investigation into the working practices of Sports Direct, has suggested that the extra, unpaid time taken for "rigorous" compulsory searches meant that workers were paid less than the minimum wage. Sports Direct has since announced that it will review all agency worker terms and conditions.

Business Minister Nick Boles has stated that tax officials have the power to investigate companies like Sports Direct if there is a general concern about practices in the sector and should act proactively rather than waiting for a specific complaint.

Chuka Umunna, the former shadow business secretary, said a request for an investigation has been made by the union Unite, but HMRC has refused to act without direct complaints from workers, who are refusing to come forward for fear of losing their jobs. He submitted an urgent question asking why HMRC could not go ahead and investigate this case when "we know enough about the practices at Sports Direct plc to conclude this company is a bad advert for British business and one with a culture of fear in the workplace, which we would not want to see repeated elsewhere".

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