Sports Direct is being forced to make clear its zero-hours contracts do not guarantee work as part of a wide-reaching set of legally-binding promises agreed after an employee took legal action against the retailer.
The Mike Ashley-owned business, which currently employs around 20,000 staff on the controversial contracts, has agreed to re-write its job adverts to “expressly state” that no work is guaranteed.
It also has to produce written policies setting out what sick pay and paid holiday zero hours workers are entitled to, and ensure that all staff are aware of this by displaying copies of the policy throughout its store estate, as well as reminding managers that its equal opportunities policy applies to those staff.
The move follows legal action brought against Sports Direct by former employee Zahera Gabriel-Abraham for sex discrimination, unfair treatment and breach of holiday rights. The case was due to reach Croydon Employment Tribunal this November.
Leigh Day lawyer Elizabeth George, who represented Gabriel-Abraham, said: “Sports Direct continue to deny any wrong doing or short-falls in their treatment of zero hours workers but Zahera and many more of the company’s zero hours staff will tell you differently.
“Zero hours workers are not second class workers. They have the right to be treated fairly and with respect. They have the right to take holidays and to be paid when they take them. They have the right to statutory sick pay. They have a right to request guaranteed hours. Sports Direct will now have to make that crystal clear to staff.”
She added: “The changes that Zahera has achieved mean that there will now be total transparency about what sort of contract is on offer. That has to be right when you are talking about jobs that don’t guarantee people work."
George noted that in its recent investigation into zero-hour contracts, the government had identified lack of transparency as a key concern.
"The government chose not to make transparency mandatory. This settlement means that it is now mandatory for Sports Direct," she added. “The fact that these promises are in the public domain is also very important. It means that if Sports Direct do not do what they have promised to do, they will be held to account."
The job adverts will have to be updated by 25 November and the other changes must be introduced no later than 25 February next year.