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Sports Direct's Mike Ashley agrees to pay staff national minimum wage from 2016

The Independent logo The Independent 31/12/2015 Hazel Sheffield
Newcastle remain £129m in debt to owner Mike Ashley (Picture: [copyright]) © Provided by The Independent Newcastle remain £129m in debt to owner Mike Ashley (Picture: [copyright])

Sports Direct has caved to pressure over its employment practices and agreed to pay all staff the national minimum wage from January 1, 2016. Workers on zero-hours contracts are not included in the raise.

In a statement on New Year's Eve, founder Mike Ashley said that the retailer had a "commitment" to paying all of its directly employed UK employees and directly engaged casual workers above the minimum wage.

He estimated that the cost of the policy would come in at around £10 million.

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Sports Direct is trying to clean up its image after scrutiny over its employment practices exposed thousands of workers on zero-hours contracts, with no job security or guaranteed hours from one week to the next.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner has said the way Sports Direct operates is a “throw-back to the Victorian era”.

Sports Direct is responsible for around a fifth of all zero-hours contracts in the UK.

The announcement comes after Ashley said he would personally oversee a review of working practices in the New Year.

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