// Boohoo audit reports accumulated over the past 4 years set out allegations at 18 Leicester suppliers
// The reports suggested that Boohoo has not shown evidence of the amount it pays its garment workers
Third party auditors to Boohoo have reportedly raised concerns over its failure to pay garment workers the minimum wage at over a dozen factories in Leicester.
Boohoo, which owns PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal, has been selling clothes made by at least 18 factories in Leicester, which according to third-party audit reports, have not provided evidence of payment, The Guardian reported.
Audit reports collected over the past four years have documented “critical” issues over record-keeping and working hours at the time they were written.
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This suggested that workers may be paid just £3 to £4 an hour in some parts of the supply chain.
To add to woes, Boohoo had said in July that the controversy was just evidence of “the actions of a few” and later boasted that its suppliers were serving “excellent work in the area”.
Boohoo defended its position by saying that the reports, which date from 2017 to just a few months ago, are “a selection of commentary from a limited number of the third-party audits” that have been completed.
However, it added that its internal investigations found “similar issues” in some of the same suppliers as the ones listed in the audit reports, though it has since suspending trading with them.
The retailer has not revealed which of the factories it had suspended.
The reports also alleged that workers were not clocking in and out for their shifts and were likely working for longer than recorded. There were also discrepancies in working-hours records, which meant minimum wage could not be verified. Working hours were set out in handwritten notes, and working-hours records were contradicted by workers in interviews.
Moreover, auditors also noted that the factories had inadequate health and safety policies, fire safety issues, missing or expired “right to work” documents, non-payment of furlough money and no records of holiday pay.
Meanwhile, anonymous industry sources said they had already witnessed similar concerns at other Boohoo suppliers.
While there is no evidence to suggest that Boohoo had access to the reports, it has been accused in the past of overlooking its supply chain issues.
Boohoo said it was “deeply concerned by these findings” but said that until its own investigations and an independent QC-led review were complete “it would be inappropriate to comment further”.
Nonetheless, eight of the 18 companies denied some or all of the allegations set out in the audits.
Last month, a Sunday Times investigation saw Boohoo embroiled in controversy over allegations that its Leicester factory was paying garment workers as little as £3.50 an hour.
The factory in question was also accused of reportedly “forcing” workers to come into work even while sick with Covid-19, despite the city recently being dragged back into a local lockdown.
The Manchester-based brand had £1.5 billion wiped off its share price in two days in July amid growing investor concern over practices within its supply chain.
Meanwhile, home secretary Priti Patel demanded that Boohoo does more to protect workers in its supply chain.