Four of the most jaw-dropping working practices at Sports Direct

 
Helen Cahill
Follow Helen
Sports Direct Founder Faces Commons Select Committee Over Working Conditions
Mike Ashley has started a review of the working practices at Sports Direct (Source: Getty)

The dire working practices at Sports Direct have come under the spotlight again today as the Business, Innovation and Skills committee released the report outlining its findings on the company - and it wasn't pretty.

Founder Mike Ashley has started a review looking at the conditions at Sports Direct's Shirebrook warehouse and in its stores, which MPs have welcomed, saying they hope the review "will be fair and independent".

Read more: MPs have finally accepted Mike Ashley's invite to the Shirebrook warehouse

Here are some of the terrible policies that Sports Direct workers have had to put up with.

The strike system

The BIS report outlines the "six strikes and you are out" policy at Sports Direct.

"Under the rules, a strike can be given to a worker if they spend too long in the toilet or chatting, or if they take time off when they are ill or when their children are unwell," the report said. "The "six strikes and you're out" policy is used as a punitive measure, which denigrates the workers at Sports Direct and gives the management unreasonable and excessive powers to discipline or dismiss at will."

Luke Primarolo, regional officer at Unite, said: "Strikes can be aribritrary, and there is no come back; there is no arguing about it...The problem with this is when you have people under that much fear, they come into work ill."

Work-til-you drop ethic

A Freedom of Information request by Unite to the East Midlands Ambulance Service uncovered the appalling safety issues at the Shirebrook.

An extract in the BIS report read: "A total of 110 ambulances or paramedic cars were dispatched to the Shirebrook warehouse's postcode between 1 January 2013 and 19 April 2016 with 50 cases classified as "life-threatening", including chest pain, breathing problems, convulsions, fitting and strokes, and five calls from women suffering pregnancy difficulties, including one woman who gave birth in the toilet in the warehouse."

Read more: Here's the most shocking testimony from the workers at Sports Direct

Another Freedom of Information request put in by Unite to the Bolsover District Council uncovered the following: "There were 115 incidents from 1 January 2010 to 19 April 2016, including an amputation of a finger, a fractured neck, a crushed hand, and hand, wrist, back and head injuries. Twelve of the incidents were listed as 'major' incidents, with 79 injuries leading to absences from work over seven days."

The pre-paid debit cards charging workers for their wages

Workers at Sports Direct are charged for the privilege of receiving their wages. Transline workers without a bank account were charged £10 for a card onto which their wages are paid. They then had to pay a £10 monthly management fee for the card, and were charged for withdrawing cash from it.

"It is not clear if this is an unlawful deduction from wages, and the costs incurred by the workers seem totally unjustified," the report said.

The dodgy insurance scheme

Employees were also charged for "insurance services" deducted from workers employed by The Best Connection agency, a fee ranging from 45p to £2.45 a week, according to Unite union.

The report said Unite had spoken to several workers who denied consenting to the charge.

"If the deduction is made direct from wages without being authorised in the worker's contract or without agreeing in writing to this deduction, it would be an unlawful deduction from wages," the BIS report said.

Related articles