I believe that all workers should receive a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.  Yasmin Qureshi
Yasmin Qureshi

I believe that all workers should receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.  However, there are workers across the country who are being asked to work for free, sometimes for up to 40 hours, in ‘trial shifts’, without any guarantee of a job at the end of it.

The exploitation of workers through 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.

This is why I supported the introduction of Stewart McDonald’s Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill, which sought to address the issue of unpaid work trials.

When this Bill was due to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 16 March 2018, I attended the debate with the intention of voting in favour of this much-needed Bill. However, no vote was held, because it was ‘talked out’ by a number of Conservative MPs, including Andrew Griffiths, the Minister responsible for this policy area.

This was a disgusting move by these MPs, who could not win the argument so resorted to abusing the rules to get their own way.  This means that, in order for the Bill to have its Second Reading, it would need to be relisted for another Friday when Parliament is sitting.

I have contacted Stewart McDonald, the MP who proposed this Bill, and his staff have confirmed that they are looking to get the Bill relisted.  However, they have noted that it is highly unlikely that it will be heard again, given the large number of other Private Members’ Bills that also need to be debated in these scarce Friday sessions.

If this Bill is relisted, then I will support it, as I did when it was read back on 16th March.  I will also support any other Bill that seeks to introduce the same measures.

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