To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the (a) wages (b) number of hours lost to unpaid work trials at the outset of employment to date in 2021.
14 December 2021
Existing legislation already bans unpaid work trials that are not part of a legitimate recruitment process. They are not permitted if they are simply for the financial benefit of the employer or are excessive in length. An unpaid trial lasting more than one day is highly likely to be illegal in all but very exceptional circumstances.
If someone has undertaken an illegal unpaid work trial, I would strongly encourage them to complain to HMRC, who enforce the minimum wage. HMRC consider every worker complaint that they receive.
It is never acceptable to underpay workers and employers who do so do not get off lightly. Where HMRC finds breaches, they order the employer to repay the workers and pay a penalty to government of up to 200%. Once HMRC has completed its investigation, it refers each case to BEIS for consideration for public naming. The Government named 191 employers on 5th August 2021 (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/employers-named-and-shamed-for-paying-less-than-minimum-wage). This includes employers in the Greater Glasgow area who had breaches involving unpaid work trials.