Mike Ashley — the billionaire owner of Sports Direct described as a “monster” by MPs — is going to personallylead a review into allegations of staff mistreatment.
The move comes after a series of media investigations into Sports Direct alleged that employees at company’s head office and in warehouses across the UK, are being subjected to unfair employment practices.
On Friday, Sports Direct released a 1,300 word statement denying that it has done anything wrong, but also announcing a review, which will look into the company’s practices regarding the agency workers it employs in its factories.
Sports Direct employs two main agencies at its warehouses, who provide the company with staff to run its warehouses, as well as directly employing some workers, but according to the statement released this morning it is only looking into agency workers. It said:
Sports Direct always seeks to improve and do things better, listens to criticism and acts where appropriate. With that in mind, as noted above, the board has agreed that Mike Ashley shall personally oversee a review of all agency worker terms and conditions to ensure the company does not just meet its legal obligations, but also provides a good environment for the entire workforce. We expect him to start that work in the New Year.
The move comes after a new investigation into Sports Direct, from the Guardian dropped on Monday, and made loads of pretty awful allegations about what workers have to go through. The Guardian alleges that:
- Warehouse staff get given a full body search at the end of each shift but the time to take doing this is not paid for.
- Staff have their wages docked if they are just one minute late.
- Workers in Sports Direct’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire are also “harangued” over the site’s tannoy for not working fast enough.
- Warehouse workers are banned from wearing more than 800 brands of clothing at work
- More than 80% of staff at the company’s Derbyshire warehouse are on zero hours contracts
The allegations led to an urgent debate in the House of Commons on Monday, where minister Nick Boles threatened to sanction the company if it is ignoring minimum wage rules, and Labour MP John Mann called Mike Ashley a “monster of a man,” and accused him of only hiring non-English speakers so that they can’t complain about conditions.