Casual Sports Direct staff will now be offered guaranteed hours rather than zero-hours contracts and all warehouse staff would be paid above National Minimum Wage as a result of a review at the embattled retailer.
An internal review carried out by professional services firm RPC found “serious shortcomings” at Sports Direct’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, which the company’s board “deeply regrets and apologises for”.
Directly-employed casual retail employees at Sports Direct will be offered the option of either a zero-hours contract or a permanent contract with at least 12 guranteed hours per week.
The company will also remove its “six strikes and you’re out” disciplinary procedure and promised to remunerate warehouse staff at a rate that’s above the National Minimum Wage.
The report also highlighted that Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley – who was recently questioned by MPs over “Victorian workhouse” practices at the warehouse – “takes ultimate responsibility for any aspects of the working practices that were unsatisfactory”.
The report also said that the human resources team at Shirebrook will be “significantly strengthened” and will now include a full-time nurse and a welfare officer, in light of a BBC investigation that ambulances were called there 76 times in two years.
Ashley has faced increasing pressure from shareholder groups in the run-up to Wednesday’s public annual general meeting (AGM).
There have been calls to overhaul Sports Direct’s board of directors, including threats to not re-elect Ashley, as well as launch an independent review into working conditions at the retailer’s factories.
Several investor groups have also challenged the retailer over its corporate governance structure and questioned Ashley’s power in the company – he has a 55 per cent stake and is deputy executive chairman.
As a result, Sports Direct has said it would conduct an external report regarding the board later this year, while RPC would carry out another extensive review of the retailer’s corporate governance prior to the 2017 AGM.