Sports Direct: HMRC Investigating Payment of Retail Staff

The Guardian has reported that HMRC investigators are examining whether Sports Direct retail staff have been paid less than the national minimum wage.

HMRC is already investigating Sports Direct’s failure to pay its warehouse staff the National Minimum Wage, it is understood to have widened its ongoing investigation to examine whether the sports chain’s 13,000 retail workers have also been paid less than the legal minimum.

The founder of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley, admitted to MPs on the business, innovation and skills (BIS) select committee – as part of a parliament inquiry – that the company paid less than the minimum wage because its staff were being subjected to a regime of searches and surveillance meaning they had to wait for an additional 15 minutes after each shift in the warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.

Mr Ashley denied workers are now being paid for the searches, the company has instead increased the speed of the searches and is still not paying for overtime.

Whilst he confirmed during the committee meeting that the company is under investigation by HMRC and is in talks about a deal to compensate its warehouse employees, HMRC have not confirmed whether or not it has widened its investigation into the retailer arm of Sports Direct.

If HMRC’s investigation is widened, it could significantly increase the amount of compensation the retailer would be expected to pay if it is found to have paid in-store staff below the legal minimum wage.

The latest issues at Sports Direct come as concerns rise that businesses are finding increasingly innovative ways to lower wage bills for low-paid workers.

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