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Sports Direct admits nearly 15,000 workers on zero-hours contracts

Sports Direct has revealed that almost 15,000 of its UK employees, or 75% of its workforce, are on zero-hours contracts.

Speaking at a Scottish Affairs Committee hearing on March 25 looking into the collapse of USC, Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell told MPs only 4,300 members of its 19,000-strong payroll are on permanent contracts.

The permanent staff qualify for bonus scheme payouts, while those on zero-hours contracts – regardless of how long they have worked at the company or how many hours they work a week – are not included in the scheme.

Hellawell told the committee the approach offers flexibility for its largely young workforce, some of whom are university students, and allows the firm to meet demand.

However, he admitted that moving away from zero-hours contracts, should the law change, would hit the business’s bottom line.

“It would adversely affect the way we run the business,” Hellawell said.

He added: “At the moment we have flexibility with our workers, but once they are on a permanent contract it takes that away. It would add costs and our position in the market would be affected.”

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