Revelations as Mike Ashley admits to paying Sports Direct staff below minimum wage

Mike Ashley is the founder of Sports Direct and owner of Newcastle United. Picture by: Joe Giddens / PA Wire/Press Association Images
Mike Ashley is the founder of Sports Direct and owner of Newcastle United.
Picture by: Joe Giddens / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sports Direct founder and Newcastle United Football Club owner Mike Ashley has admitted to paying workers below the minimum wage.

The billionaire tycoon, who previously received criticism for the use of his company’s zero-hour contracts, was questioned by the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee formed by a panel of MPs earlier today (June 7, 2016) on the working conditions of his staff.

In December 2015, Ashley had claimed that Sports Direct did meet the minimum wage, however, today he said that workers were paid below that after a “certain time” and that they were subjected to up to 15-minute security checks during which time staff reported of no pay.

The session also revealed that employees would have 15 minutes worth of pay cut from their wage if they were one minute late and that they were not paid for working overtime.

After pressure from the union Unite, bosses agreed with HM Revenue and Customs to recompensate warehouse staff who were paid less than the minimum wage.

At the hearing, Unite told the committee that Sports Direct “punishes” employees for challenging their employer or taking too long in the toilet. They highlighted on a striking system which seen workers sacked once they reached their sixth strike.

“You have to have some kind of system,” Mike Ashley said. “Call it 26 strikes – as long as they are used correctly.”

The hearing came following a Guardian and BBC Inside Out investigation. To watch it, visit the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee website.

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