Transline: innovative working practices or cutting corners?

Reports seem to suggest that employees of Transline have few employment rights

In an age of fairly rigid employment law and legislation, Transline Group – a company specialising in providing temporary staff to well-known high street retailers – appears to be breaking a lot of the rules.

The story broke last year when an undercover investigation into the company appeared to show it was paying workers at popular sports retailer Sports Direct less than minimum wage. This prompted a parliamentary committee hearing during which management from the brand and staff from Transline were forced to explain their actions and subsequently ordered to pay back over £1m to the underpaid workers in their Derbyshire warehouse.

Although many of the MPs involved in the hearing concluded that Sports Direct was itself at fault, Transline bore the brunt of the criticism from the report; in fact, ministers went as far as to discourage Sports Direct from continuing to work with the recruitment firm, slamming its working practice and treatment of staff.

Transline, a company founded in 1989, appears to be hugely profitable, with one of its four directors reportedly taking home a whopping £575,862 salary in 2013; however, much of its success is allegedly down to outsourcing its workforce and consequently cutting out costs such as those incurred by having an active HR department within the company.

This may be profitable from a purely financial standpoint but such decisions have caused controversy and brought the company’s working practices into disrepute. Reports seem to suggest that employees of Transline have few employment rights, such as the right to the minimum wage; in addition, due to the lack of support and legislation available to them, employees are constantly wary of getting the sack.

More probing into the company unveiled the fact that it may have traded without the correct licensing from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). This revelation is a further blow for Transline, which insists that the committee was biased against it; in fact, Transline is taking legal action over what it classes as inappropriate statements about the company’s directors.

Is Transline a recruitment firm that is simply using new and innovative ways of outsourcing to maximise its profits, or is it cutting corners at the expense of its staff? Only time will tell, but the recent bad press is not doing the company any favours. Perhaps it is time for Transline to assess its working practises, even if this means management taking a pay cut.

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