JD Sports refutes the claims made by the Channel Four investigation

JD Sports refutes the claims made by the Channel Four investigation

JD Sports has hit back at claims by a Channel Four television investigation that the UK retailer is employing warehouse staff in conditions "worse than a prison," and that it operates a "three strikes and you're sacked" policy.

The Channel Four undercover investigation – to be broadcast this evening (14 Wednesday) – alleges the JD Sports warehouse in Rochdale operates "punitive disciplinary procedures, intense surveillance and security, heightened job insecurity amongst agency workers and intimidation."

The news broadcaster claims temporary workers told of conditions "worse than prison," with many earning less than the minimum wage and being threatened with the sack if they sit down during long shifts. It also highlighted "rigorous airport-style checks and random searches" for entering and leaving the premises, which could take up to 15 minutes, with staff not paid for this time. 

The Kingsway Business Park facility in Rochdale supplies all of JD Sports' stores in the UK and abroad, as well as its online business. It currently employs 1,500 workers and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Channel Four. 

Iain Wright MP, who led an inquiry into similar practices at rival retailer Sports Direct, said he was "disgusted" by the findings and that he would like the company to explain itself in front of MPs.

In a joint statement with Assist, the recruitment firm used to hire the temporary workers, JD Sports said a number of the claims were not true.

"We categorically do not operate a 'strike' system and our workers cannot get fired 'on the spot'. We have a fully outlined disciplinary procedure and appeal process based on the ACAS code of practice," a spokesperson said. "Furthermore, our time and attendance system is specifically designed to ensure all workers from both companies are paid for the time it takes to go through security on leaving the site; and we pay all employees in full who are up to 15 minutes late on arrival. 

"It is very disappointing that Channel 4 have not taken account of our detailed response, including factual evidence, which clearly stated this."

In an earlier statement to Channel Four, JD Sports had said it was "deeply disappointed and concerned" by the allegations, which it said were "misleading" and "not an accurate reflection of our culture." 

"Our employees are vital to our business and their welfare is an utmost priority, so we take any such allegations very seriously. Where there have been individual failures or breaches of our policies we will take appropriate action, and learn for the future," it said.

JD Sports says, together with Assist, it has recently aligned terminology surrounding the company's disciplinary process and operates a consistent disciplinary policy, based on the ACAS Code of Practice. This is a staged process, which starts with an informal conversation with the employee, followed by a first written warning, final written warning and then dismissal. Employees are able to appeal any decision made at each stage of the process.