Boohoo has said allegations of poor conditions in its Burnley warehouse are “not reflective” of its working environment. 


Boohoo has denied the allegations put forward by The Times

The fast-fashion etailer denies allegations presented in an investigation by The Times that claim staff describe themselves as slaves and work under extremely harsh conditions in one of its fulfilment centres. 

An investigation of the depot, which was carried out by an undercover reporter who worked there for a month, found staff complained of racism, sexual harassment, gruelling targets, inadequate training and ill-fitting safety equipment.

A Boohoo spokeswoman said: “Boohoo is taking every claim very seriously but does not believe the picture painted is reflective of the working environment at our Burnley warehouse. 

“Over recent years, we have invited and subsequently received representatives from external organisations, authorities and people such as the GLAA [Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority], local MPs, the deputy leader of the local council and Burnley College, and we remain committed to transparency and engagement.”

The investigation claimed staff walked up to 13 miles per shift at the warehouse, where nighttime temperatures inside reached 32°C and ambulances are called once a month on average.  

Boohoo said its own GPS tracker found the undercover reporter walked an average of 7.3 miles per shift and the investigation took place during an unprecedented heatwave, for which it provided heat preparation steps during summer months, including fans, water and a floor rotation system.  

Staff at the warehouse are said to self-identify as slaves and said they were treated like “fodder” as managers time their lavatory breaks and give no allowances for injuries sustained as a result of their work.

Staff are paid £11 per hour to pick items for the 200,000 orders Boohoo sends out each day and are monitored via a scanning device worn on their arm that tells them where to go to pick the next item. 

Boohoo said the suggestion that it does not take a duty of care for its colleagues is “misleading” and insists it takes all reasonable safeguarding steps.

“Making sure our people are safe and comfortable in their workplace is our highest priority,” said the spokeswoman.  

“That is why more and more of our colleagues are choosing to stay here for longer, with our turnover rate continuing to fall year on year. We offer generous rates of pay, well over and above the national living wage, with additional benefits including subsidised private healthcare.

“Through our employee engagement programme, our colleagues tell us that they are happy with their working environment, feel valued and feel listened to.

“We have been operating our Burnley warehouse for 12 years and are extremely proud of the work that we do there, the amazing team we have on-site and the important part our business plays in giving back to the local community.”

Racism allegations

The report also presented evidence of racism, with Pakistani workers reportedly told by a white marshal to work in the warmest parts of the building, while white workers were sent to cooler areas.

Of this accusation, Boohoo said it had not received any formal complaints but upon seeing the evidence reported by The Times it has opened an urgent investigation. 

“We have a zero-tolerance approach towards racism and view allegations of racism with the utmost seriousness,” said the spokeswoman.

The report follows a 2020 report by The Times that found staff in its Leicester factory were being paid illegally low wages and disregarding Covid-19 safety measures.