Calls for immediate legislation to ban unpaid work trials
Posted on February 5 2019 at 12:30
Stewart McDonald MP has called on the
UK government to bring forward its own legislation to prevent unscrupulous
employers from asking job applicants to work without any payment or guarantee
of a job.
The MP for Glasgow South will
say that the UK government’s decision to block his Unpaid Trial Work Periods
(Prohibition) Bill last year, and its subsequent failure to act, had allowed
the exploitative practice to continue unchecked.
Stewart McDonald’s Bill sought to end the practice of employers asking job
applicants to work for hours, days, or even weeks without any payment or
guarantee of a job at the end of it. Despite wide cross-party support for the Bill, a public petition with over 140,000 signatures, and the backing of
leading organisations including the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC), the
UK government prevented the bill from going to a vote.
If passed, the Bill would have established in law what constitutes a trial work
period, ensured that those on trial work periods are paid at least the minimum
wage, and set requirements for employers, including making clear how many
positions are available, providing a copy of the job description, and
introducing a requirement for feedback. It would also have made provision to
challenge those in breach of the law.
Unpaid trial shifts contribute to an estimated £3billion in lost wages in the
UK every year. Following today’s debate, the SNP has called on the UK
government to change the law or devolve powers over employment law to the
Scottish Parliament so that the SNP can introduce legislation in Scotland.
Commenting, Stewart McDonald MP said:
“The culture of unpaid work is a scourge on society and the UK Government has
to get a grip and make it clear that this practice should be banned outright –
no ifs, no buts.
“I’m pleased to secure this debate and continue the fight against unpaid work
trials - an exploitative practice that continues to blight our employment
sector. I am clear in the view that work must always pay.
“Whilst the Government has finally acknowledged that unpaid work trials are
prevalent across the board through their new guidance, it does not go far
enough in protecting vulnerable workers.
“The Government is still clearly of the view that unpaid work trials should be
permitted, and, despite saying such trials should last no longer than one day,
the guidance is too vague in protecting workers should they fall victim to
longer unpaid trials. The Government should back my proposals to ban unpaid
work trials, and legislate for this immediately.”