28 October 2014
Sports direct will be forced to advertise the employment terms of its zero-hours contracts, following legal action.
A former employee, Zahera Gabriel-Abrahem, took Sports Direct to an employment tribunal over its zero-hours contract (ZHC) policy. 20,000 Sports Direct staff are currently employed on the contracts.
The case was due to be heard next month, however Sports Direct have chosen to settle out of court. While the company will continue to employ staff on ZHCs, it has agreed to re-write all job advertisements and employment contracts to explicitly state that “casual” roles will come with no guaranteed work. The holiday and sick pay terms will also be made clear to employees, many of whom did not know their entitlements.
Elizabeth George, a barrister at Leigh Day who represented Gabriel Abrahem, said “Zero-hours workers are not second-class workers. They have the right to be treated fairly and with respect. They have the right to take holidays and to be paid when they take them. They have the right to statutory sick pay. They have a right to request guaranteed hours.
“Sports Direct will now have to make that crystal clear to staff. By doing so the risk of those rights being ignored or misunderstood by managers will be significantly reduced in the future.”
While this result is a win for campaigners who were previously met with a wall of silence in confronting Sports Direct over their employment record, there is clearly still along way to go.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “It is good that Sports Direct will now be more open about what a bad deal zero hours contracts can be for workers. Other companies should do the same. But this settlement does nothing to stop the insecurity of zero hours contracts. Nor does it end the fear that zero hours workers have of getting on the wrong side of their manager in case they are victimised.”
Sports Direct is also facing legal action by workers excluded from a bonus scheme due to their not being classed as “permanent workers”.
For more information on Zero Hours Contracts Re-regulating Zero Hours Contracts, is available now.