Thank you to those who recently contacted me about the Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill. I agree that this is an important issue. I believe all workers should receive a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and therefore support the Bill.
The use of unpaid trial shifts is a real problem under the current legislation. Unpaid work trials have become a widespread practice in the hospitality, entertainment and retail sectors, and employers have used the concept of work "shadowing" to bring in unpaid workers to cover staff shortages, sickness or particularly busy periods and events. There is therefore a need to clarify the legal position and close loopholes to ensure that workers are paid for every hour they work and every shift they do.
Last year, research from the University of Middlesex identified unpaid induction and trial shifts as one of several types of unpaid work that contribute to an estimated £1.3 billion of wages (as well as £1.8 billion of holiday pay) denied to workers every year. I am concerned that they are just a further example of a range of sharp practices associated with low-paid, insecure employment in this country, designed to cut the burden on employers, at the expense of millions of workers.
The Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill started its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 16 March. Unfortunately, the Government did not support the Bill and it was unable to pass to the next stage of the Parliamentary process. It will now not be able to make any further progress through the House of Commons.
Nevertheless, I believe that unpaid work trials remain particularly unjust and an area of bad practice that needs to be shut down. At the 2017 General Election, the Labour manifesto that pledged to give all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent, so that working conditions are not driven down, unfortunately Labour did not win the election. I can assure you that I will continue to call for and support measures to protect workers from this and all other forms of exploitation at every opportunity.