// Store managers from Sports Direct & House of Fraser chains say they were asked to work while on furlough
// Frasers Group allegedly asked store managers to go into stores once a week to pack stock to return to the warehouse
// Frasers Group staff were also asked to return to work full time and on 90% pay from today
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is under fire after store managers from its Sports Direct and House of Fraser chains alleged that they were pressured to work while on furlough.
According to The Guardian, House of Fraser and Sports Direct allegedly asked managers to volunteer to go into stores for work since the furlough took effect last month, in what is an apparent contravention of the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.
In two cases, store manages were allegedly asked not to clock on.
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They were also allegedly asked to return to work on reduced pay, but Frasers Group has since changed its position after The Guardian’s story was published yesterday.
The House of Fraser and Sports Direct managers were allegedly asked to pack up stock in store so it could be returned to Frasers Group’s Shirebrook warehouse to be sold online.
Under the job retention scheme, the government covers 80 per cent of staff salary and up to £2500 per month in return for workers staying at home during the coronavirus lockdown.
The rules state: “To be eligible for the grant, when on furlough, an employee cannot undertake work for, or on behalf, of the organisation or any linked or associated organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue.”
Meanwhile last week, Frasers Group staff were asked to return to work full time and on 90 per cent pay from today, The Guardian added.
They reportedly told to work in stores 10 hours a day to not only return stock to the warehouse but also to prepare stores for physical distancing measures ahead of an ease on lockdown restrictions.
Managers were said to have been told that Frasers Group was monitoring mainland Europe, where non-food stores were allowed to open again, and believed a similar move may follow in the UK within three weeks.
However, some managers speaking to The Guardian said they did not want to return to work on less pay while at risk of infection, and they were worried about insufficient protective equipment or that social distancing measures would not be enforced.
Retail Gazette has contacted Frasers Group for comment.