Agents of despair as Sports Direct guarantee hours to 18,250 staff

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Sports Direct has said it will now offer its casual retail staff at least 12 hours a week, instead of zero-hour contracts.

However, almost all its warehouse staff at the troubled Shirebrook warehouse are agency workers and therefore not eligible.

In a report commissioned by the firm, it apologised for conditions at Shirebrook, which have been likened to those of a Victorian workhouse. The company has been under pressure to change the way it is run.

Sports Direct’s offer of new guaranteed hours will apply to the firm’s 18,250 casual staff who work in its stores. The 4,059 warehouse workers supplied by agencies will not qualify. Only 40 of their warehouse employees are on permanent contracts.

Last year an investigation by the Guardian newspaper revealed that warehouse staff were subject to lengthy security searches which, in some cases, resulted in their pay falling below the legal minimum wage.

The firm said its failure to pay some staff at its Shirebrook warehouse the minimum wage was “unacceptable but unintentional”.

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