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Next accused of bullying staff

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High street giant Next has been blamed for forcing workers into giving up overtime pay for working on a Sunday.

According to The Guardian the fashion and homewares chain, which employs more than 52,000 people, is hoping that around 800 store employees will give up the premium they are currently entitled to, which is worth up to £20 a week or £1,000 a year.

Those affected all joined Next before 2008, when the British retailer stopped offering a Sunday premium to new staff. In March, they were involved in a consultation on changes to their contracts which the GMB union said the staff rejected but Next claims 99% accepted.

As a result, all employees are now being moved on to contracts under which they do not receive extra pay for Sundays. Workers can either accept the new contract or opt for redundancy.

Compensation equal to one-third of the Sunday premium that staff earned over the past year is reportedly being offered to those who agree to the updated contract.

A spokesman for Next said: “Working on a Sunday, since it was introduced back in the 90s, has become a new normal – so Next feels it is no longer justifiable to pay some of its staff up to 50% more than colleagues doing the same work on the same day.”

Mick Rix, the national officer for retail workers at the GMB union, said: “Next claims that it considers Sunday to be a normal working day and uses this opinion to justify cutting pay on Sunday. There can hardly be a better example of a company that has a total disregard for family life.”

Next is not the first UK retailer to re-evaluate working hours on a Sunday, which is increasingly becoming considered as a normal working day. Last year Mulberry, the middle-market bag maker, quietly stopped paying a Sunday premium to a handful of employees who had been working at the luxury label since before the Sunday incentive was stopped. Staff were asked to sign a new contract, which offered a supposedly better commission structure, or accept redundancy. 

Published on Tuesday 12 May by Veebs Sabharwal

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