UK Government "must pledge to end" unpaid work trials
Posted on April 9 2018 at 18:39
SNP MP Stewart McDonald has written to the UK Business Minister for clarification on the continuing use of unpaid work trials and has said it is ‘discouraging’ that the UK government still regards them as ‘permissible.’ Stewart McDonald said he would continue the campaign to ban exploitative unpaid trial shifts after Tory MPs ‘talked out’ his Private Members Bill at Westminster.
In a subsequent parliamentary question Mr McDonald asked the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Minister what steps the government are taking to ensure that job applicants are paid the National Minimum Wage for work trials.
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, 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 in the UK parliament.
Stewart McDonald MP commented:
"The UK government has confirmed it still believes that unpaid work trails are ‘permissible' – and I find that discouraging given the enormous weight of opposition to them. Employers can still exploit and abuse people looking for work.
"It is welcome that the BEIS Department has said it is preparing guidance and consulting on the issue – but it looks like they are starting from the wrong place if they believe that unpaid work trials are in any way acceptable. To be meaningful, the consultation must be public and open to employers, trade unions and MPs to ensure fair representation of those who are affected and have experienced unpaid work trials.
"All people want is to be treated fairly but too often those who are desperate for a job are being asked to work for hours, days, or even weeks without any pay, or any guarantee of a job at the end of it and that is clearly unacceptable. The Tories must pledge to end these exploitative trials.
"A fair day’s work deserves a fair day's pay and there is huge public support for a ban on unpaid trial shifts. The Tories might have used parliamentary trickery to prevent my bill passing, but the SNP campaign to change the law and improve workers’ rights will continue.”