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Sports Direct “struggling” to enforce COVID-19 rules

Tom Shearsmith
27 March 2020

Sports Direct is reportedly said to be finding it a difficult to enforce the strict COVID-19 rules asked to be implemented amid the pandemic.

The sportswear and sports goods retailer has lashed out at recruitment agencies that provide thousands of staff to its warehouse in Derbyshire, in a bid to defend itself for how it safeguards warehouse workers health during the outbreak, The Guardian reports.

The company appeared to admit to failures in following appropriate safety standards inside their facility, as it said it was reviewing the contracts of the agencies because “in some cases we have struggled to enforce that they adhere to government/WHO regulations”.

An email sent by a Sports Direct spokesman to The Guardian said: “Our overriding concern is and always has been the welfare of all staff working at Shirebrook – full time employees and agency staff alike – with a commitment to guaranteeing hours for them all.

“We have strictly followed government/WHO guidelines and are continually advising and supporting our entire workforce so these new rules are enforced. For clarity, when coronavirus hit we were mid-tender with all of our agencies, having had concerns that some of the agencies were not looking after their staff.

“We are not downsizing but looking to work with responsible suppliers. This current, awful situation has only further highlighted how unreputable these agencies are; in some cases we have struggled to enforce that they adhere to government/WHO regulations. As a result we are currently reviewing our contracts.”

The spokesman later attempted to recall the email, stating that it had not been approved by Sports Direct’s legal department and that there was now no review.

The news comes after Boris Johnson warned Mike Ashley to “expect the consequences” if Sports Direct flouts rules about closing it's stores in the UK.

Sports Direct also came under fire this week as it was caught hiking sports kit prices online.

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