HMRC must investigate Sports Direct quickly and thoroughly

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21 December 2015

HMRC SD letter Siobhain has written to HMRC about Sports Direct’s breach of the National Minimum Wage and the need for an urgent and thorough investigation into the matter.

Sports Direct is controlled by Britain’s 22nd richest man, and its staff are required to go through compulsory searches at the end of each shift. However, the time spent during these searches is unpaid meaning that employees are effectively receiving an illegal rate of about £6.50 an hour against the statutory rate of £6.70.

This practice is potentially saving the FTSE 100 firm millions of pounds a year at the expense of some of the poorest workers in the UK.

As Siobhain states in her letter to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and the HMRC Chief Executive: 'No company profit line is more important than a hard-working employee being able to bring home their just entitlement, a fair day’s pay for a full day’s work.

As a result of Sports Direct’s disregard of this principle, many employees will be unable to celebrate Christmas as they would like this year, struggling to provide for their families and their children.

I hope that you will provide assurances to myself, the employees of Sports Direct and the general public, that HMRC’s investigation will be conducted thoroughly and swiftly, so that the hard-working employees in Mitcham and Morden, and across the country, receive the wage they are legally entitled to, and the respect they morally deserve.' 


You can download Siobhain's letter here, or read it below.

'Dear Minister, 

I am writing to you in relation to Sports Direct’s breach of the National Minimum Wage. I would like to express the absolute urgency of an investigation by HMRC, and I believe that a thorough investigation needs to take place immediately and as quickly as possible. 

It is distressing to learn that warehouse staff at the group, which is controlled by Britain’s 22nd richest man, are required to go through compulsory searches at the end of each shift, for which their time is unpaid, while they also suffer harsh deductions from their wage packets for clocking in for a shift just one minute late.

And this practice means that employees are effectively receiving an illegal rate of about £6.50 an hour against the statutory rate of £6.70 – potentially saving the FTSE 100 firm millions of pounds a year at the expense of some of the poorest workers in the UK.

It seems the very strict culture at the firm has resulted in workers being afraid to speak out over their low pay and poor working conditions, for fear of losing their jobs.

And this is likely to be an issue affecting my own constituents. The Sports Direct at the Colliers Wood Tandem Centre is a big employer in Mitcham and Morden, and I would like assurances that from now on they will be receiving their legal National Minimum Wage entitlement. 

I am sure that you will agree with me that this situation is wholly unpalatable in this day and age. These are some of the poorest employees, who are entitled at least to the national minimum requirement.

No company profit line is more important than a hard-working employee being able to bring home their just entitlement, a fair day’s pay for a full day’s work. 

As a result of Sports Direct’s disregard of this principle, many employees will be unable to celebrate Christmas as they would like this year, struggling to provide for their families and their children.

I hope that you will provide assurances to myself, the employees of Sports Direct and the general public, that HMRC’s investigation will be conducted thoroughly and swiftly, so that the hard-working employees in Mitcham and Morden, and across the country, receive the wage they are legally entitled to, and the respect they morally deserve. 

I look forward to your response. 

Yours sincerely, 

Siobhain McDonagh 

Cc. Ms Lin Homer CB, HMRC Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary' 

 


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