Temporary workers at Sports Direct, the booming retail chain controlled by the billionaire Mike Ashley, are receiving effective hourly rates of pay below the minimum wage, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal. Warehouse staff at the group, which is controlled by Britain’s 22nd richest man, are required to go through searches at the end of each shift, for which their time is unpaid, while they also suffer harsh deductions from their wage packets for clocking in for a shift just one minute late.
The practices contribute to many staff being paid an effective rate of about £6.50 an hour against the statutory rate of £6.70 – potentially saving the FTSE 100 firm millions of pounds a year at the expense of some of the poorest workers in the UK.
At the retailer’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire more than 80% of staff are on zero hours contracts. Local primary schoolteachers have told the Guardian that pupils can remain in school while ill – and return home to empty houses – as parents working at Sports Direct are too frightened to take time off work. Workers are even banned from wearing rival brand clothes, 802 separate clothing brands.