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article imageRetailer Sports Direct searches staff on their own time

By Tim Sandle     Dec 10, 2015 in Business
A major British employer, Sports Direct, is conducting extensive searches of its employees as they leave its premises (in case of the employee theft). The searches take place outside of paid work time.
Dickensian stories are common around Christmas time and the spotlight often turns to "Scrooge-like" retailers. This time a company called Sports Direct is in the spotlight. The charge is searching all staff leaving its warehouses (based on the fact it does not trust its employees not to engage in the theft of its varied items of clothing). The searches take place in the employees' own time (after they have clocked off.) The searches are said to take so long, the company may be flouting minimum wage laws.
Here, an article written in The Guardian suggests the extra, unpaid time taken for the compulsory searches results in workers being paid less than the minimum wage.
According to the BBC, the company has responded saying the search times have been reduced considerably. However, an undercover reporter for The Guardian notes the typical search takes 15 minutes. A high proportion of the staff is said to be on zero hours contracts, although Sports Direct refutes this.
A zero-hour contract refers to a contract where the employer has full discretion over an employee's working hours, from full-time to zero hours." Here the employee has to sign up to an obligation to work for the employer whenever they are needed, but the employer is under no obligation to provide work for the employee. Many trade unions regard these types of contracts to be unfair.
Sports Direct has been trading since 1982. The company sell low-price, stacked-high replica sports clothing and other leisurewear. There are 500 retail outlets and a network of warehouses. In 2014, the company reported a profit of £180 million ($273 million), based on a revenue of £2.7 billion ($4.7 billion.)
General Secretary of the U.K. Trade Union Congress, Frances O'Grady told the BBC: "All workers should be paid at least the minimum wage for every minute they are required to be on company premises."
More about Sports Direct, employee theft, Theft, Stores, Minimum wage
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