Employers working for British fashion retailer Boohoo.com risk getting fired for smiling or checking their mobile phones, an investigation by Channel 4 has found.
The information was revealed in an episode of Dispatches which looks into Britain’s cheap clothing industry.
The investigation suggests contracts can be terminated after three strikes – often for minor infringements such as checking the time on their mobile or showing up five minutes late to work.
The programme also revealed that sometimes 15 minutes worth of pay are docked for being a minute late to a shift.
There are also claims some workers have to walk up to 25 miles during a shift.
In the show, a former Boohoo team leader says:
“Guys check the time on their phones and we’ve been asked to give people strikes for that.
“In one instance, I received an email to ask me if I could give somebody a strike because somebody was smiling.”
Boohoo denied the claims and told Dispatches they don’t operate a three strikes policy. The company said that all its employees, including those working for an agency on behalf of the company, are paid at least the national minimum wage.
The investigation comes after online fashion retailer Asos was accused last year of treating its workers ‘like machines’.
The Government’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said last year in a 37-page-report that the retailer had treated workers as “commodities” rather than human beings.