Rising up through Social Media are outcries from predominantly younger people that they are being encouraged to undertake “trial periods” for no pay or in return for a meal (if a catering business) in the hope that they will gain employment.
How is this viewed in relation to Employment Law and why is this now hitting the media and being brought to Theresa Mays attention?
If Facebook and Tweets are anything to go by this now appears to be common practice in the retail and hospitality industries and its leaving those carrying out trials upset if no position is then granted. Some young people report having full responsibilities and undertaking long and repeated shifts and appearing on rotas before being told they have not been successful in gaining employment.
If someone is working i.e. undertaking duties as if they are working, it is our opinion that the should receive the National Minimum Wage (NMW) rate payable for their age and that a Tribunal would see the non-payment of this as an unlawful deduction despite no contract of employment being in place.
If, however you are taking them on a guided tour of the building and they are shadowing this may be a reasonable trial. The length of the “trial” is also of importance. For a trial to be longer than an hour or two may not be seen as reasonable and for the trial person to appear on a rota in place of what otherwise should be a scheduled employee on contract, it is our opinion that this would add to a successful claim from the trial person that they should indeed receive pay for their contribution.
It is important not to confuse a trial period with workfare.
“Workfare is the name given to government schemes where unemployed and disabled people have to work in return for their benefits. The running of workfare schemes is outsourced to a range of public, private and voluntary sector providers, who sub-contract parts of their schemes to charities and community groups”.
** If you would like to discuss details of specific work trials you operate, please contact your Advisor **