Widespread and cross-party support for Bill to end "workplace exploitation"
Posted on February 17 2018 at 09:00
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
“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
‘’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,
‘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."