Sports Direct staff told to ‘go back to work with Covid’ despite self-isolation rules

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The news comes as the coronavirus pandemic has seen the Omicron variant spread across the globe, with cases already hitting UK towns and cities. With Government rules now requiring the wearing of masks in shops and on public transport, the notion of forcing staff displaying symptoms into work is worrying. A former sales assistant at the Sports Direct branch in Harringey, east London, says there have been several cases of staff being told to come into work at the branch rather than self-isolate.

The anonymous worker said: “I want to address and make it known how peoples’ health is being disregarded and how they are being treated, especially with the circumstances of coronavirus and the pandemic.”

One member of staff at the store was told to come into work despite having contact with their mother, who had tested positive for Covid.

The Sports Direct employee said their mother had taken two tests, one of which had come back positive and the other negative.

But in a late-night WhatsApp exchange, the staff member told their boss that their mum had tested positive with a lateral flow test and was waiting for a PCR result.

But the worker was then told to come into work the next day anyway.
At the time, Government guidance was that Britons should self-isolate if they lived with someone who had tested positive, or if they were pinged by the test and trace app.

The worker was later pinged by the app.

In another example at the Haringey branch, a member of staff tested positive for Covid at 5pm on July 20 this year after suddenly developing symptoms at work.

But the ill employee was ordered to keep working because they had the experience of closing and locking up the store, which other members of staff on the same shift lacked.

The anonymous staff member added that a third colleague at the Haringey branch was on the way to work in September 2021 when she found out a friend she saw recently had Covid.

She rang her manager but was told to come in anyway – provided she wore a mask and socially distanced at work.

The issue also affected staff at the Sports Direct branch in Oxford Street, London.

In June a staff member told the store manager his girlfriend had tested positive for Covid.

He sent photos of the positive test to his manager.

But he still went into work – and tested positive three days later

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Twelve workers at the store got Covid over the following fortnight, the worker said.

A spokesperson for Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct, said: “Frasers Group plc takes allegations like this very seriously and investigates all such grievances through the appropriate channels.”

It continued: “The health and wellbeing of our colleagues is our top priority, as is following all COVID-19 rules and regulations.”

In August the founder of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley, announced he would step down as head of his retail empire after four decades.

The retail tycoon will hand the reigns over to his future son-in-law and financial consultant Michael Murray, 31.

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