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Unpaid Shift Work

Currently a company can invite prospective employees to come in and complete ‘trial shifts’ in order to assess their competency, with the intention that if all goes well a job will be available at the end of this shift.

However, there have been growing complaints that employers are using trial shifts as a way of gaining free labour and that some companies are taking advantage of those who are looking to find their way into employment.

On Friday a private members bill which is looking to make unpaid trials illegal will get its second parliamentary reading. This bill is looking to introduce minimum wage requirements for anyone who participates in these trials as well as putting more responsibility on the employee to advertise to all participants clearly:

  • How long the trial period will last for
  • The job description and qualities needed for the role to be trialled
  • How many jobs are available at the end of the trial period

The bill is also looking to make employers provide feedback to participants after the trial period and informing participants of what arrangements will be made for notifying them of the outcome of the trial.

There is current legislation in place to prevent ‘excessively long’ trial shifts but MPs argue that this legislation is not working.

This is an interesting development as many small businesses rely on trial shifts to check the competencies of prospective employees, due to their worries about hiring the wrong person.  Therefore there is likely to be some debate between those trying to introduce the bill and organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses who will look to defend small businesses’ rights to offer trial shifts as part of their recruitment process.

To talk to us about unpaid shifts, worker statuses or any other employment query please contact our HR Consultancy Team.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt) – Risk Services Adviser

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