Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has invited MPs to the retailer’s headquarters to discuss the working conditions of its staff.
Billionaire Ashley has reportedly offered to meet politicians at Sports Direct’s head office following a series of damaging claims about its treatment of employees.
Sports Direct came under fire in December after MPs attacked its employment record in Parliament.
Former shadow business minister, Chuka Umunna, blasted the retailer as “a bad advert for British business” and said it had “a culture of fear in the workplace that we would not wish to see repeated elsewhere”. He submitted an urgent question on the wage position at the retailer that led to a debate.
It followed days of revelations in The Guardian, which plastered Sports Direct on its front page after an investigation by the newspaper claimed to have found that thousands of the retailer’s workers were receiving hourly rates of pay effectively below minimum wage, after time for security searches had been deducted.
The publication also claimed that Sports Direct staff were too frightened to ask for time off even if they had to look after sick children who had been sent home from school ill.
Sports Direct hit back at what it called an “unfair portrayal” of its employment practices and Ashley pledged to personally carry out a review. The retailer is also ploughing £10m a year into giving its lowest paid workers pay hikes.
The change is expected to benefit approximately 15,000 zero-hours workers, mostly in shops, and 4,000 agency staff at its Shirebrook distribution office.
Ashley later told The Daily Mirror that he wanted Sport Direct to become “the best high street retail employer after John Lewis”.
The tycoon has never met directly with MPs, but a source close to the situation told the newspaper: “Mike thinks the best way to set the record straight is to be completely open, so he’s invited the MPs to come and see everything.”