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12 things we learned from the Sports Direct working practices review

Law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) published a full review of the working practices at Sports Direct today. Here is what we learned…

1. RPC recommends Sports Direct’s agencies should suspend the ‘six strikes policy’ asap and replace it with the grievance and disciplinary procedure used for Sports Direct’s permanent employees.

2. They should also keep zero-hour contracts under review. The retailer’s 18,250 casual retail workers who want to move to fixed hours should be able to, with a permanent contract guaranteeing 12 hours a week.

3. The board is considering a test scheme to transfer ten picking staff a month from the agencies to Sports Direct (on average around two people a month do it now).

4. Sports Direct will hire a full-time nurse (from 8am to 4pm) and welfare officer, as well as provide a welfare budget to provide contingency funds.

5. Up until February this year, agencies supplying workers to Sports Direct counted sickness with a sick note as one strike in the ‘six strikes and you’re out policy’ – it was removed in February 2016; as was poor attitude (which included excessive or long toilet breaks), which was removed in July 2016.

6. The list of brands that Sports Direct warehouse workers can’t wear to work has fallen from around 800 to 30.

7. There are plans to build a gym on the Shirebrook site.

8. It was CEO Dave Forsey’s fault Mike Ashley didn’t know about some of the issues at this summer’s parliamentary hearings – he “failed to inform the board in a timely or effective manner over the course of a year or so”. It cost him his share bonus entitlement worth around £3.6m “in recognition of the shortcomings”.

9. Ashley will be reading the news a lot more in future – “the board will have a focused review of press coverage at board meetings”.

10. There’s now a checklist and best practice to be followed before calling an ambulance to Shirebrook, plus the nurse to “reduce the risk of unnecessary ambulance callouts being made”.

11. 26 new water coolers have been fitted in the warehouse since the committee hearing.

12. RPC will conduct a review of wider corporate governance at Sports Direct before next year’s AGM.

In numbers:

Sports Direct has around 27,000 workers (including employees, casual workers and agency staff)

Directly employed:

  • Zero-hour contracts (or ‘casual’) in stores – 18,250
  • Permanent in stores, head office or warehouse – 5,037


  • Warehouse workers on zero-hour contracts (or ‘336 contracts’) – 4,059
  • Warehouse workers on permanent contracts – 40

Sports Direct has more than 733 stores and a warehouse complex (Shirebrook) totalling 2m sq ft, around 27 football pitches. It sells around 200 million units per year.

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