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1 Sep 2020

Archie Bland, The Guardian

UK: Auditors raised minimum-wage violations at multiple Boohoo factories

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"Revealed: auditors raised minimum-wage red flags at Boohoo factories", 28 August 2020

...mBoohoo has been selling clothes made by at least 18 factories in Leicester that audits say have failed to prove they pay the minimum wage to workers, a Guardian investigation has found.

Third-party audit reports produced over the past four years make claims of “critical” issues over record-keeping and working hours at the time they were written, suggesting that in parts of the supply chain workers may be paid as little as £3-£4 an hour.

... [T]he confidential reports... pose a new challenge to the brand’s insistence that issues reported in July were simply evidence of “the actions of a few” and stood in contrast to “the excellent work of many of our suppliers in the area”... Boohoo said the documentation... “appears to be a selection of commentary from a limited number of the third-party audits that have been completed”. But it added that its own investigations “have highlighted similar issues”... and that it had suspended trading with them until its concerns were resolved.

Claims in the documents... detail allegations of:

  • Workers not clocking in and out for their shifts, suggesting they worked for longer than officially recorded.
  • Discrepancies in working-hours records, making it impossible to verify minimum wage.
  • Hours set out using informal handwritten notes instead of computerised timesheets.
  • Working-hours records that were contradicted by workers in interviews.
  • Other concerns including inadequate health and safety policies, fire safety issues, missing or expired “right to work” documents, non-payment of furlough money and no records of holiday pay.

The reports, which date from 2017 to just a few months ago, came alongside whistleblower claims of other violations in Leicester’s factories...