Unite backs Westminster bid to outlaw unpaid 'tria...

Unite backs Westminster bid to outlaw unpaid 'trial' shifts

16 February 2018

Unite Scotland backs bill to ban unpaid trial shifts 

Union says it’s time to outlaw unpaid shifts

The Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill tabled by Stewart McDonald MP will force employers to pay prospective staff from the first hour of work during a trial or probation period, whether or not they are kept on in the role.  The Bill (which now has cross-party support) will be tabled for a vote at Westminster on 16th March. 

This follows pressure from Unite Scotland’s Fair Hospitality campaign as well as Better than Zero.It was the Better than Zero campaign which first exposed the scandal of non-paid trial shifts in the retail and hospitality industries. 

Following tip-offs from members and former staff here are some examples of those employers who we know have used unpaid trial shifts: 

• Mark Greenaway – We know from several sources (past and present members of staff) that the award winning chef was using dozens of unpaid trial shifts per week. 

• Moo Boo – Forced new starts to carry out 40 hours unpaid training. 

• Aldi – As many as 150 workers (per store) brought in for unpaid trial shifts in stores across the country 

One of those members told us about their experience with ALDI: “It is actually slave labour - they use you to get the shop ready for opening time and get annoyed if you make any mistakes… They just abandon you and come back moaning that you've not finished the million tasks you were down to do. They then emailed me the next day saying I was unsuccessful and that they can’t provide feedback because of the volume of applicants.” 

Bryan Simpson from Unite Hospitality said: "The use of unpaid trial shifts particularly within the bars & restaurant industry has grown exponentially over the past few years with employers using unpaid trial shifts as free labour mostly to cover staff absence. We need to clarify the legal position for employees and employers alike with legislation which ensures that workers get paid properly."

Stewart McDonald MP said: “My Bill is needed because the law about this is currently a grey area. In 20 years of the National Minimum Wage Act there hasn’t been one case against the use of unpaid trials shifts. Bringing forward a ban of the practice of unpaid trial shifts  will make a real difference to the lives of many people – especially young people - throughout Scotland and the UK. It is really encouraging that it already has cross-party support at Westminster.” 

David Martyn, Employment Law Partner at Thompsons Solicitors, commented that: “The current regulations governing trial shifts are unfit for purpose. They allow employers to circumvent the rules governing the National Living Wage by wrongly classifying activities which create value and revenue for employers as something other than “work”."