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Unpaid Work

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 141226, tabled on 16 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with (a) trade unions and (b) employees on the potential merits of banning the use of unpaid work trials at the outset of employment.

Answered on

21 March 2022

The Government regularly speaks to stakeholders including trade unions, on a wide range of employment issues. If someone has undertaken an unpaid work trial and thinks they should have been paid NMW, they can call the ACAS helpline or use the online helpline tool for free, confidential advice about their rights and entitlements. If they want to make a complaint through HMRC, they can do so in complete confidence.

Unpaid work trials that are exploitative are already against the law. When recruiting, an employer can ask an individual to carry out a short unpaid work trial to demonstrate that they have the skills required for the job. But if a work trial is excessively long, or not part of a genuine recruitment purpose, employers must pay participants at least the legal minimum wage.

Named day
Named day questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.