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#WorkTrialsOnTrial | Widespread and cross-party support for Bill to end "workplace exploitation"


Widespread and cross-party support for Bill to end "workplace exploitation"

Stewart McDonald MP has commented on the publication of his Private Members Bill on Unpaid Trial Shifts at Westminster and has said that if it passes we will be ‘one step closer to ending some of the exploitations that still exist in the workplace.’

Stewart McDonald has also welcomed the support received from the Scottish TUC employment law professionals and campaigners – as well as widespread cross party support at Westminster – where the Bill will be presented next month.


Stewart McDonald SNP MP - Glasgow South - said:

''Unpaid trial shifts, often with no paid work at the end, are nothing more than exploitation – and my Bill is needed because the law is currently a grey area that is used to take advantage of people in an unfair and sometimes cynical way. In 20 years of the National Minimum Wage Act there hasn’t been one case – far less a prosecution or government action – against the use of unpaid trials shifts.

“Young people in particular are the most likely to face this exploitation – which is another bitter blow given they are already entitled to less money than their older colleagues for doing the same jobs - because of the unfairness of the Tories’ minimum wage.

“Bringing forward a ban of the practice of unpaid trial shifts will make a real difference to the lives of many people throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“All people want is to be treated fairly – and banning unpaid trial shifts will be a step in the right direction in ensuring this happens for people across the country.

‘’It is really encouraging that it already has cross-party support at Westminster and if passed, it will be one step closer to ending some of the exploitations that exist in the workplace.''

Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said:

‘Unpaid trial shifts are amongst the most pernicious examples of exploitation within the hospitality and retail sectors.

‘From large employers to small business and cafes, unpaid trial shifts are being offered with no clarity about the jobs available at the end of it. Often, businesses are praying upon people who are desperate for work in order to reduce their costs.

‘The STUC is very proud of the work that Better than Zero activists continue to do expose the widespread use of unpaid trial shifts and to force legislative and grassroots change on the issue.’

Bryan Simpson - Better than Zero and Unite Hospitality Organiser commented :

"We know from our members across the hospitality industry that the use of unpaid trial shifts particularly within the bars & restaurant industry has grown exponentially over the past few years with employers - large and small - using unpaid trial shifts as free labour 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.

The passing of this bill at Westminster is not just about outlawing the use of unpaid trial shifts, it's about sending a clear message to employers across the UK that workers deserve to be paid for every hour they work."

David Martyn, Employment Law Partner at Thompsons Solicitors added :

“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”. I have seen at first hand the way that unscrupulous employers manipulate the failures in the current law to exploit often the most vulnerable and lowest paid workers with ‘false trial shifts’.

‘’This manipulation of the system is widespread and requires the clarifications provided in the Bill to ensure that the current rules are properly enforced.

‘’I should also be clear in saying that the Bill does not extend the law on the Minimum wage. It does not create new rights. It simply closes a loophole to ensure that the lowest paid in society are not forced to work for free. I would commend the hard work of Stewart McDonald, Unite and Better than Zero on this very important issue”

Jolyon Maugham QC, Good Law Project – the legal campaigning organisation added:

"There is a gaping hole in the laws that are supposed to protect vulnerable job seekers from exploitation. But this Bill, if makes its way onto the statute books, will help prevent young men and women being used as a ready pool of unpaid labour by unscrupulous employers.

"No longer will it be possible to kid desperate job seekers into working unpaid shifts by pretending it's part of an interview process."Parliament logo

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