It’s recently been named the most reputable fashion retailer by UK consumers, but a new investigation reveals employees of online giant ASOS face exploitative contracts, an overbearing security regime and unwanted stress.
A three-month BuzzFeed News investigation interviewed current and former ASOS warehouse employees who claimed they faced pressurised conditions when trying to compete customer orders within 48 hours.
BuzzFeed revealed that the company’s managers allegedly live-monitor the number of orders put through the hand scanners used by worked, who can be ‘reprimanded’ if they fall behind.
Some staff claimed they have experienced their assignments ending without notice, being sent home without pay and told not to come in when their shift is surprisingly cancelled. The investigation began after an agency worker at the online retailer was let go a week after having a panic attack.
It isn't the first time the ASOS warehouse in Grimethorpe has seen criticism, as last month Labour MP and party leadership contender Owen Smith said the company’s use of flexible working contracts are the “worst forms of zero-hours arrangements I’ve come across”.
BuzzFeed reported that staff said they also found it challenging to fit in bathroom breaks and one person alleged: “You are literally treated like a machine.”
An ASOS spokesperson said: “We take employment incredibly seriously and continue to say very clearly that what continues to be thrown at us is simply not true – we don’t use zero-hours contracts, we pay above minimum wage, people can take toilet and water breaks whenever they want (and no that time doesn’t count against their performance targets).
“However, these stories continue to get written, and without mention of the investment that has been made in facilities at the site, the wide range of benefits we provide for our staff there, or the democratically elected Employee Forum that was set up to represent the workforce.”
ASOS hit £1.15 billion sales leading up to August 2015 and is aiming to achieve £2.5 billion annual sales in the next four years. In the four months to June this year, sales grew by 30% year-on-year to £514.6 million.
In July, Sports Direct was also criticised by MP Ian Wright, who claimed the retailers warehouses were like ‘Victorian workhouses’ where staff are not treated like humans.
Last month, they said it will pay back £1 million to some of its staff after it was revealed it paid employers below the minimum wage.