by Robin Priestley Aug 7th, 2013
It’s the people vs Sports Direct. Companies abusing zero hours contracts have been all over the news this week. The stories started after it was revealed that Sports Direct employ 90% of their staff on contracts with no guaranteed hours week to week, no holiday pay or sick pay.
Today 38 Degrees member Zahera, an ex-employee of Sports Direct, is taking them to court to challenge their use of the controversial contracts. If she wins, it will send out shockwaves to all companies abusing these contracts. And it will put pressure on the government to tighten up the law and protect vulnerable employees.
Elizabeth George, a lawyer at law firm Leigh Day, has offered to represent Zahera and will only receive a fee if we win the case. But there will still be costs involved. If Sports Direct decide to fight, it could cost over £10,000 to go to court, much more than Zahera could afford on her own.
But if enough of us chip in just £1 each to raise the money, it will send a powerful message to Sports Direct and their billionaire owner, who will have deep pockets to fund their legal team. They will see that they are heading to court to not just to face one ex-employee standing up for her colleagues’ rights, but an army of 38 Degrees members.
38 Degrees members have already sent over 120,000 emails to Sports Direct demanding they treat their staff properly and give them the option of fairer contracts. They have so far refused to comment, hoping the story will go away. But by taking them to court we’ll force them to.
Zero hours contracts are already being investigated by the government. But our action could set a legal precedent for all businesses, not just Sports Direct, and will put the government under pressure to act fast.
We know that people powered legal cases can win. Last week, we celebrated after beating Health Minister Jeremy Hunt in court. 38 Degrees members donated £15,000 to the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign’s case against his plans to close their local hospital. It was a huge win in the fight to save our NHS and made headlines across the country.
Now let’s use our collective power to take on Sports Direct and strike a victory not just for Zahera, but for people on zero hours contracts across the country.
Thanks for standing with Zahera
Why could it cost so much?
To issue the claim, Zahera is required to pay an issue fee of £250.
There is a further fee if the claim goes all the way to a full hearing of £900.
Law firm Leigh Day are representing Zahera on a no-win no fee basis, so there is no cost here. However Elizabeth will be bringing a co-counsel to fight the case with her. We anticipate the cost to be in the region of £10,000 plus VAT for the hearing.
If for some reason the case doesn’t go ahead we would offer a refund.
What happens if we raise more than is needed to fight the case?
Any donations made above the amount needed to fight the case will go towards 38 Degrees’ campaigning work, including pushing the government to tighten up the law around zero hours contracts. For more details of our donations policy click here
Are all zero hours contracts bad?
Many people would like to see zero hours contracts banned outright, but for some employees, zero hours contracts are a useful flexible way of working. However the news has been filled with stories of companies abusing these contracts to bully staff. This case could be a landmark moment in the fight to stop this abuse.