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Jack Wills staff ordered in to work despite store closures and Government warnings

PUBLISHED: 18:40 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:40 24 March 2020

The Jack Wills store in Norwich. Photo: Google StreetView

The Jack Wills store in Norwich. Photo: Google StreetView

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Staff working for Jack Wills were ordered to show up for work on Tuesday, despite the Government warning only “essential” workers should be in.

One Norfolk staff member told this newspaper they had to come in to guarantee getting paid.

A manager told staff that if they did not come in they would be classed as self-isolating and would therefore only get statutory sick pay.

The worker said: “I want everyone to know how they treat their staff.”

Clothing chain Jack Wills has stores in Southwold, Norwich and Burnham Market.

It is part of Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group which caused controversy on Tuesday morning by keeping its Sports Direct stores open.

That then changed later on Tuesday with all stores in the group shutting.

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But in a call to managers, Frasers Group told staff that they should keep coming in to work if they wanted to keep getting paid - despite the store closures.

An anonymous employee also told the Press Association that Sports Direct’s full-time shop staff were told they have to work in-store despite the closures in order to receive their wages.

One Jack Wills’ worker told the Press Association that workers were sitting in stores waiting for instructions.

They said: “We feel like we’re putting ourselves and others at risk by not staying at home like the Government has told us to. I’ve got colleagues feeling frustrated and angry.

“We feel disrespected by Mike Ashley’s decisions to try and keep the company trading. The lack of communication and plan when they knew this was likely is embarrassing.”

Last week, the Government said it would pay 80pc of staff wages up to £2,500 a month, if companies kept them on.

But the manager told staff in the call on Tuesday that there were too many questions around that scheme for them to rely on it at the moment.

A spokesman for Frasers Group said it would follow whatever the Government advised.

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