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Sports Direct faces legal action from zero-hours staff over bonuses

Sports Direct is facing a legal challenge from 250 staff who claim they were barred from a multimillion-pound bonus scheme because they were on zero hours contracts.

Law firm Leigh Day said the part-time staff, who worked at the sportswear company between April 2008 and August 2013, were excluded from a bonus scheme of £160m worth of shares given to 2,000 permanent workers, breaching their employment contract.

Elizabeth George, a barrister at Leigh Day, told the Guardian: “We believe that they had a contractual right to the bonus because regardless of the zero-hours label that the company has given their contracts, they were all permanent employees of the company for the necessary number of years.”

The law firm said the number of claimants could rise to thousands after it received enquiries from other Sports Direct staff making complaints.

Leigh Day has launched a separate legal claim against the use of zero hours contracts by Sports Direct on behalf of Zahera Gabriel-Abraham, a former part-time sales assistant employed on a zero hours contract. Her employment tribunal case, due to be heard in November, challenges the legality of the company’s treatment of its part-time workforce claiming that there was no practical difference between the obligations put on those placed on zero hours contracts and full-time staff.

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