Boohoo hit with allegations concerning warehouse working conditions
The report also highlighted claims of warehouse workers being forced to walk the equivalent of a half-marathon per shift in a sweltering warehouse in which night-time temperatures can reach 32C.
Staff at the warehouse label themselves “slaves” and have complained of racism, sexual harassment, exhausting targets, inadequate training, high staff turnover, and ill-fitting safety equipment. The harsh conditions have led to workers collapsing, with an ambulance called to the site once a month on average.
The undercover reporter walked up to 13 miles a shift, more than three times the average amount the company has previously claimed staff cover.
Employees at the warehouse are paid £11 an hour for shifts of up to 12 hours. Employees are constantly monitored via scanning devices worn on the arm which instruct workers where to go for the next item. After a short training period, they are expected to meet a target of 130 items an hour.
Highlights from the report include the following claims:
- Staff complained they are treated as “fodder”, with managers timing bathroom breaks and no allowances made for injuries suffered as a result of work.
- Pakistani workers were reportedly told by a white marshal to work in the hottest area of the warehouse while white staff were sent to a cooler area.
- Workers also complained of instances of sexual harassment. In one case, an alleged victim of sexual assault who reported the incident was accused by a manager of lying. A gagging order prevents her from discussing the incident, The Times reported.
A Boohoo Spokesperson responded to the claims: “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, local MPs, the Deputy leader of the Local Council, and Burnley College, and we remain committed to transparency and engagement.
“Making sure our people are safe and comfortable in their workplace is our highest priority. 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.”
After closing at 38.81p overnight, Boohoo Group shares dropped to 35p early on Wednesday before easing to 37.63p after an hour's trading, a drop of over 3%.
Boohoo Group recently revealed a 13% fall in profits for the six months to 31 August 2022. The business expects profits to keep falling as cost-of-living pressures weigh on customer demand.