A bid to ban unpaid trial shifts has failed in the House of Commons after the government's business minister said further regulation was not required.
A Private Members' Bill, put forward by SNP MP Stewart McDonald, had called for prospective employees to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for trial shifts.
But at the second reading of the bill today business minister Andrew Griffiths said: "I think that there is a very clear way in which we can do this without the need for further regulation because what is clear is that the law is already very, very clear on this point."
Trade union Unite had said it had seen a dramatic increase in complaints over unpaid shifts in the past three years.
Unite hospitality organiser, Bryan Simpson, said: "The use of unpaid trial shifts particularly within the bars and restaurant industry has grown exponentially over the past few years with employers using unpaid trial shifts as free labour mostly 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."
David Israel, partner at law firm Royds Withy King, told The Caterer that the proposed legislation had looked to close a grey area open to exploitation by employers. He said: "Under the National Minimum Wage Act if a person takes part in a scheme to provide training or work experience to assist in the obtaining of work they do not need to be paid. What the MP is trying to remedy is that some companies appear to be utilising that to provide free labour on the pretext of it being part of the process to assist them in assessing a candidate."
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