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Catalogue of Fast Fashion Fit-Ups

Thursday, September 8, 2022

An employment agency working on behalf of major fashion retailers in the UK has been found guilty of multiple counts of underpaying staff and withholding holiday pay.

Mach Recruitment acts as an umbrella agency providing staff to hep process online orders for businesses in the fast fashion sector. Clients of the agency Boohoo and The Very Group amongst others have engaged workers through the agency who have subsequently filed complaints over pay.

An investigation published by The Observer tied a recent spate of Employment Tribunal cases to the recruitment agency, Mach, these included:

  • May 2022, Mr Z. Hussain v Mach Recruitment Ltd was ordered to pay £1,184 to a worker who’d completed a number of shifts in August 2021 for The Very Group but had not received wages for their time at the warehouse.
  • June 2022, Balassa v Mach Recruitment Ltd, the agency was found to have made unauthorised deductions which included not meeting holiday pay requirements. Mach was ordered to pay £138.
  • July 2022, Symons v Mach Recruitment Ltd. The agency was yet again ordered to pay a worker who had correctly claimed that she had not been paid for shifts. The settlement was £430.
  • There have also been additional employment claims alongside pay disputes. June 2021, Mr Golis v Mach Recruitment Ltd. The agency was directed to pay a worker £12,000 for unfair dismissal, £3,960 for unpaid bonuses, and £1,064 for unpaid holiday, tribunal records show.

To date the agency has been taken to 12 employment tribunals in the past two years.  The research identified from the judgments that Mach Recruitment had not responded to calls or emails from the Tribunal Service.

One explanation for the failure to engage with the Tribunal Service, put forward by Mach, was the added pressure of trading through Covid-19 but they challenged the rulings.

Despite Mach protestations a detailed review of claimant payslips, contracts and communications via text and email by Observer reporters found evidence of underpayments.

The cases highlight challenges for businesses who are successful at winning large, lucrative contracts and in efforts to satisfy demand fail to effectively manage the workers and engage appropriate systems and processes to ensure breaches such as this are avoided.  There is also a possibility that the legal position with regards to freelance worker rights may have played a part.

To avoid falling foul of claims it’s always worth investing in the advice and guidance on procedures by an experienced employment lawyer.

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