According to an investigation conducted by channel 4’s Dispatches, Boohoo, River Island, New Look and Misguided factories are paying their employees between £3 and £3.50 per hour.
The legal minimum wage in the United Kingdom for workers over the age of 25 is £7.20 per hour. The documentary will expose companies who are abusing minimum wage laws. The case is similar to an investigation conducted by the Guardian into Sports Direct in December 2015; they too found that their warehouse workers were being paid less than the minimum wage. Employees were eventually awarded approximately £1 million in back payments.
The Dispatches documentary involves an undercover reporter getting a job with Fashion Square Ltd who labels clothes for River Island. When the reporter complained to the firm that he is usually paid £7.20 an hour for this type of work, he was informed by the manager: “If we were to pay our workers rates like this we wouldn’t make any profit.”
The undercover reporter also got a job with a factory that makes clothes for New Look where he was paid £3.50 an hour. Another textile company, United Creations, paid him £3.25 an hour.
When reports were revealed to River Island, they claimed that Fashion Square was no longer on their approved factory list, and they hadn’t been since February 2016. They also stated that: “Suppliers had been instructed to stop using Fashion Square for any of their products; this has now created a legal issue as it is a violation of our terms and conditions.”
New Look, Missguided and Boohoo all claimed to have no knowledge of what was taking place in these factories; they stated that they would be addressing the issues.