Boohoo says working practices TV exposé is wrong
Fast-growing young fashion specialist boohoo.com has become the latest UK retailer to be the subject of a probe into its working practices but has denied accusations made in the Channel 4 investigation.
The second of two programmes investigating the UK’s clothing industry by Channel 4’s Dispatches appears to show that employees earning £7.20 an hour at a depot in Burnley only get two 30-minute breaks in a 12-hour shift with one of them unpaid.
While working conditions exposés in previous years focused on factories abroad, last year saw some UK operations coming under intense scrutiny. Both Sports Direct and JD Sports were accused of poor working conditions at UK facilities while logistics plants used by Topshop owner Arcadia were also in the spotlight when workers went on strike shortly before Christmas.
In the latest exposé, Dispatches also said that the pay of the Boohoo workers can be docked by 15 minutes if they arrive one minute late and that agency workers can be dismissed for very minor issues with “three strikes” seeing workers losing their jobs. The programme also claimed a single shift could involve a worker walking up to 25 miles.
However, the company refuted the programme’s main assertions and said that claims made in it are “not in line with our current policies.”
Boohoo said it had offered Channel 4 the chance to film openly but the offer was declined. It also said it pays all of the warehouse staff (both agency and permanent) more than the National Minimum Wage and on average pays 12.5% more.
The company insisted that it does not operate a ‘three strikes policy’ but has policies in place to manage the performance, conduct and attendance of its staff. It said the three strikes issue “is legacy language passed on by a former agency with which we have ceased working.”
Boohoo also said it promotes long-term relationships with agency employees, permanently employing 330 former agency employees in 2016 alone and that all employees can share in its success through share schemes and free share awards.
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