Brighton and Hove survey into unpaid trial shifts

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A student campaign to end unpaid trial shifts has led to a public consultation.

People asked to work a shift for nothing as part of a job interview process are being asked by Brighton and Hove City Council to fill in a survey.

The council is trying to assess the scale of the issue.

The consultation came about after campaigners from Say No To Unpaid Trial Shifts approached the council last year.

They were supported by Labour councillor Nancy Platts before she became the leader of the council.

Councillor Platts put forward a motion to the council in July last year asking the council’s chief executive Geoff Raw to work with businesses to stop the practice.

She went on to welcome the suggestion from Conservative councillor Steve Bell that there should be a consultation.

A survey of 221 young people by Say No To Unpaid Trial Shifts found that 156 were asked to carry out unpaid work before starting a job.

Of these just 72 were offered a job afterwards.

Examples given included a young person who was asked to cover a few shifts for a company only to be told it was a trial.

Another person decided to leave a job after three days and found that they would not be paid.

Say No To Unpaid Trial Shifts has created a guide to work trials, which is available on the “support for business and trade” section of the council’s website.

It said that the situation was ambiguous in its guide which said: “There is no direct reference to unpaid trial shifts in statutory law and very little case law.

“However, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 states that any person who performs work for a business or organisation of any sort is entitled to at least the minimum wage.

“It also allows for exceptions when it comes to an individual who is involved in a scheme for the ‘seeking or obtaining of work’ or that is ‘designed to provide training, work experience or temporary work’.”

Workers aged 25 or above are entitled to the “national living wage”. Younger people are entitled to minimum wage rates.

In the consultation people applying for jobs are asked about their experiences of unpaid trial shifts.

Business owners are asked about the size and type of their business and the circumstances in which they offered unpaid trial shifts.

Both surveys are open until Thursday 31 October. To take part, go to consultations.brighton-hove.gov.uk