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Sports Direct - Working Conditions Of Temporary Workers

Comment from Brabners TEAM Legal Service Provider - Sports Direct, the British sportswear retailer, has received a large amount of recent media attention due to evidence of strict working practices and claims that the rate of pay earned by its temporary workers falls below the National Minimum Wage.

An investigation by the Guardian newspaper reported that accused working practices included wage deductions for a long list of behaviours including lateness, strikes for offences including “excessive toilet breaks” and “time wasting”, tannoy announcements and frequent body searches to look for goods at the end of a shift. The searches were found to last for up to 15 minutes, and as they took place on-site after a shift ended, they represented an unpaid period of time, and therefore contributed to the temporary workers being paid an effective rate of £6.50 per hour.

The National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 provide that from 1 October 2015, the Standard Adult Rate (the minimum amount that can be paid to an adult per hour) is £6.70 per hour. All employers in the UK are prohibited from paying adult workers below this limit.

In light of this media attention, HMRC has faced calls from MPs to launch an inquiry into the business. HMRC has investigatory powers to investigate negative working practices in light of such claims.

This week Sports Direct has announced that it will pay direct employees and casual workers above the National Minimum Wage, but appears to have not made reference to agency workers. The company did however announce in December that it will review its relationship with agencies. This review is expected to take place soon.