Sports Direct with their head office based in Shirebrook have long been one of the most recognisable high street stores. When it comes to being able to find branded sporting goods at decent value, you know what you’re going to get out of the store, you may even walk away with one of the stores branded giant mugs. Something that you can drink a large vat of tea from but also at one point follow on Twitter. Underneath the piles of clothing, trainers and golf clubs are the staff who hold the stores together across the country. Sports Direct staff have recently hit the headlines for one of the most controversial topics in British employment. 90% of the company’s staff are on zero hours contracts.
Employment has changed so much over the years. More and more people are fighting for fewer and fewer jobs all across the country. The economy is on its way back to recovery and has been for a good while now, yet still the employment market is still seemingly recovering itself. I recall being told a story about a new branch of Costa Coffee opening in one city and for the eight positions on offer at that branch they had over 1700 applications. Applicants for these positions ranged from students to recent graduates to former managers of stores who were over qualified for the positions available. So worried are we about our current employment state and the desperation to get any job we can, all of a sudden a zero hour contract ends up looking pretty appealing. If you watch the video in this article, you’ll see the Channel 4 news team debate these contracts and at one point state “is it either unemployment or uncertain employment?” At some point over the last year or so decisions were made at Sports Directs head office resulting in the company offering out zero hour contracts to their 20000 strong part time staff members.
Zero hours contracts can seem extremely appealing to an employer. You’ll have a member of staff on your books who you can call on at a moment’s notice to work on that day and sometimes for a few hours at a time. Employees are only paid for that they work and are usually not offered perks like paid holidays or time off in lieu. When it was recently uncovered that Sports Direct had joined the list of zero hour contractors including the likes of Burger King, Domino’s Pizza and even Buckingham Palace, they instantly came under fire and their head office was bombarded by employees on these deals. Protests happened outside Sports Direct flagship stores across the country and the debate over these contracts still rages on to this day. The workers union Unite have got involved and have visited the Sports Direct Head Office to chat to Mike Ashley regarding this situation.
Action has already been taken against the company as one of their former employees, Zahera Gabriel-Abraham quit her job after suffering panic attacks over her family’s financial security after being employed on one of these zero hours contracts. The insecurity of not knowing exactly when you’re going to be working next can put a lot of pressure on an individual. One week you may be working full time hours and absolutely nothing the week after. Depending on the wording of your particular contract you may have agreed an exclusivity deal with that employer or store and are bound to them, unable to work anywhere else despite being offered no set pattern of work.
These contracts have been highlighted by government recently and their controversial nature is something which will continue to be debated for a long time. As an employee of Sports Direct, many would advise you to seek legal advice if you have one of these type of contracts as you may be entitled to some form of compensation. Of course the team at the head office can give you more details.