Sports Direct is ditching zero-hours contracts

Mike AshleyGettySports Direct founder Mike Ashley

Sports Direct is to ditch zero-hours contracts after public uproar over working conditions in the retailer’s warehouses and stores.

In a report commissioned by the retailer, legal firm RPC identified “serious shortcomings” in the firm’s working practices which its board “deeply regrets and apologises for.”

Casual retail staff are now to be offered guaranteed hours in the place of zero-hour contracts, a much-maligned system where employers are not obliged to offer staff a minimum number of weekly hours.

Employees will also be paid above the minimum wage, after a Guardian investigation last year found that the firm paid effective hourly rates of £6.50, below the statutory rate of £6.70.

The company’s board has also recommended a suspension of the warehouse’s ‘six strikes’ policy, which punished employees for minor infringements.

Staff could face a ‘strike’ for perceived offences including long toilet breaks, excessive chatting, and taking time off for illness.

The report said the policy was a “blunt instrument” which concentrated power in the hands of a few and left employees in an “uncertain and difficult position” concerning their job security.

The news comes one day ahead of Sports Direct’s annual general meeting, where Mike Ashley faces a possible revolt from shareholders over his leadership.

Several shareholders have already announced their intention to vote against his re-election to the position of deputy executive chairman.

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