Restaurant Mark Greenaway in Edinburgh has been targeted by hospitality trade unionists for using unpaid trial shifts as part of its job interview process.
On Tuesday (18 July), the Better Than Zero group, a Scottish Trades Union Congress-supported group campaigning against zero hour contracts and exploitation in the hospitality industry, published a post on Facebook which read: "Have you or anyone you know worked for Mark Greenaway restaurant in Edinburgh? We want to hear from you…"
A spokesperson from Better Than Zero said: "We were sent a tip off about working practices at Mark Greenaway's while we were gathering info on unpaid trial shifts. We know from several sources (past and present members of staff) that Mark Greenaway is using dozens of unpaid trial shifts per week to cover busy periods and use desperate young workers as a free cleaning service. This is completely unacceptable and unless we get a public commitment from him that he will pay all staff then we will be taking direct action at the restaurant in Edinburgh."
Responding to the statement, Greenaway said: "This is an untrue statement. I have never topped up my staff with free labour for the purposes of getting free labour."
He added that the restaurant has a cleaner who has been employed by the restaurant for the last four years.
Speaking to The Caterer, he said trial shifts would typically only last two to four hours, involve small tasks such as serving bread and butter for waiting staff, or for a chef to prove basic skills ahead of service and to stand with him on the pass during service, with all successful applicants being paid for their trial shift once they start work. However, potential applicants who are not offered a position at the three AA rosette restaurant are not paid.
Greenaway said: "It's as much to benefit the candidate as it is us. A few candidates turn round after two or three hours and say it's not what they thought it would be, it's not for them, they don't want the job.
"We don't use it as free labour and we don't use it to fill a labour gap. The amount of work they generally do is little to none, it's for them to see us and us to see them and to check their skill set. It's very different if you're asking people to do several days' work on trial. I think that's wrong, that is exploiting staff. We don't do that."
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