Sports Direct boss: I did pay less than minimum wage

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has admitted he paid workers below the minimum wage, also telling British MPs he has discovered “issues” with working practices at the retailer as part of an internal review.

Mr Ashley told MPs from the Business Select Committee that security guards at the company’s Shirebrook warehouse held up staff from leaving, meaning they were effectively paid less than the minimum wage.

MPs are investigating working practices at Sports Direct’s warehouse, including poor conditions, use of controversial zero-hours contracts, and payment procedures.

Mr Ashley described his review as a “work in progress”, adding: “I’ve discovered some issues and I’ve hopefully addressed some of those issues. Bottlenecks at security are the main issue.”

He also revealed that HMRC is investigating the firm over wages and that Sports Direct is in talks to offer backpay to staff.

Earlier, MPs heard from the Unite union a “culture of fear” pervaded at the warehouse, claiming one Sports Direct employee was forced to give birth in a toilet.

The tycoon pledged to implement a number of changes to working practices within 90 days, promising to write to MPs if the time frame needs to be extended.

On zero-hour contracts, Mr Ashley said his review had not covered that side of the business yet, but added t he agrees some staff should be transferred to full-time contracts.


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