SNP MP names and shames companies over use of unpaid trial shifts

There's growing momentum behind one MP's legislative push to end the exploitative practice of unpaid trial shifts.

A Scottish National Party MP has used his Parliamentary privilege to name and shame companies alleged to use so-called ‘unpaid trial shifts’. 

This is where companies bring in people to work without paying them, and without the guarantee of a job at the end.

In a debate on his Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill, Stewart McDonald, MP for Glasgow South, told the Commons on Friday:

“My view is that these practices are already illegal. But in 20 years of the Minimum Wage Act there’s been no prosecutions for the use of unpaid trial shifts. This isn’t about work experience or internships.

“The people who fall victim to this are people who don’t know their rights…

“I will use Parliamentary privilege to name some companies who have used unpaid trial shifts.

“Mooboo Bubble Tea asked one person to work 40 hours for no money. They didn’t offer her the job – they ignored her.”

He named one individual, Maxine Clifford, who was ‘regularly put on unpaid trial shifts of at least ten hours’ with Mooboo. Mooboo say they have since scrapped the scheme after he reported the company.

He also claimed supermarket store Aldi advertised for 150 unpaid trial shifts in North East Scotland.

But Aldi told Scottish Grocer that the figures are “totally inaccurate”, with the discounter saying a total of “193 people have attended trials at Aldi’s store in Scotland over the last year, with 97 of these going on to secure jobs with the company.”

Mr McDonald also claimed B&M Bargains in North Lanarkshire had used unpaid trial shifts.

It comes as a YouGov poll showed 65% of people say unpaid trial shifts are not fair, to just 24% who think they are.

Mr McDonald has had support for his Bill from the Scottish TUC and employment law professionals and campaigners – as well as widespread cross party support at Westminster.

The TUC are also backing the Bill. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“We’re worried that some dodgy bosses are doing this to duck the minimum wage. We need the government to crack down on it. Everybody deserves a fair day’s pay for a honest day’s work.”

The Unpaid Trial Shifts Bill is currently on its 2nd Reading, with progressive MPs hoping it will be carried forward into Committee Stage.

A spokesperson for TGI Fridays told Left Foot Forward:

A TGI Fridays spokesperson said:

“Our current recruitment process meets current industry guidelines and includes on [sic] the job experience, an interview, and the opportunity to enjoy some Fridays food with the restaurant manager.”

Mooboo Bubble Tea were contacted but did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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