MPs have asked online fashion retailer Boohoo to provide evidence that it is meeting workers’ rights commitments made in December 2020.
The environmental audit committee has written to Boohoo group chairman Mahmud Kamani asking the fast expanding group to link its bonus scheme for senior executives to achievement of its pledges on workers’ rights and environmental sustainability.
It also requested updates on Boohoo’s commitments to environmental and social responsibilities made during the company’s appearance before the committee in December. The letter described steps the company was taking as positive, singling out its decision to sign up to three leading sustainability initiatives.
Supply chain issues
However, the MPs wrote they were disappointed that, at the evidence session, Kamani was unable to provide sufficient detail in response to questions about the company’s governance.
The committee said it had pressed Kamani for updates around Boohoo’s measures to ensure minimum wage compliance within its supply chain, and for a list of the 64 businesses that Boohoo told the committee it had severed ties with, as a result of their apparent failure to comply with the company’s new code of conduct.
Information was also sought on whether Boohoo’s board had agreed to link remuneration incentives to environmental, societal and governance improvements, which could include the environmental sustainability of its products and the welfare of workers, as Kamani agreed to consider when giving evidence to the committee.
Boohoo has promised to publish details of its tier one and tier two supply chain later this month.
Environmental audit committee chairman, Philip Dunne MP, said: “Boohoo’s rapid growth has taken the UK garment industry by storm. It has been linked to poor pay and conditions in UK garment factories. But to its credit, it has pledged to clean up its act.
“We have written to Mr Kamani to seek updates on a range of issues, including on supply chain transparency. We are asking Boohoo to put its money where its mouth is and link the multi-million pound bonuses it has lined up for its bosses to the achievement of its ethical and environmental pledges.”
Meanwhile, Boohoo has said it is not “aware of any investigation” by US authorities after reports it could face an import ban.
Earlier this week reports emerged suggesting that US Customs and Border Protection body had found sufficient grounds for the investigation.
We have written to Mr Kamani to seek updates on a range of issues, including on supply chain transparency. We are asking Boohoo to put its money where its mouth is and link the multi-million pound bonuses it has lined up for its bosses to the achievement of its ethical and environmental pledges” – Philip Dunne MP
Campaign group Liberty Shared said it had raised concerns with US customs about potential labour abuse in the company’s supply chain.
In a statement, Boohoo said: “Over the past eight months the group has been working closely with UK enforcement bodies.
“If the group were to discover any suggestion of modern day slavery it would immediately disclose this to the relevant authorities.”
In late September 2020, lawyer Alison Levitt QC, who had been hired by Boohoo to review its practices following allegations of low pay and poor conditions, said allegations around the company were “substantially true”. Her report confirmed that workers in Boohoo’s supply chain were paid below the minimum wage while their health was put at risk in the pandemic. She said Boohoo’s monitoring of its supply chain was inadequate.
Levitt said Boohoo had “capitalised on the commercial opportunities offered by lockdown” but took no responsibility for the consequences for those making the clothes they sold.