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Some workplaces in Brighton, including hospitality companies like pubs, restaurants and hotels, to hospitals, care agencies and the building trade, employers ask potential employees to come and work a 'trial shift' to see if they are up to the job.

Sometimes this trial can last a couple hours, sometimes twelve, but all too often the trials can last a few days. Some companies are taking advantage of this and are covering exceptional workload issues with workers doing unpaid trials. To put it clearly and succinctly: working for free.

Bosses know that there is no law on the issue but they always try to reduce their costs: so they will try to avoid paying your holidays, some wages, notice pay or even a few hours from your first days. Probably you are just owed a few tens pounds. So, probably you think it is not worth it.

However, you will need those few pounds much more than the company. Plus, most important of all, this is not just about you. If you accept all of this, you are making it harder for the next worker to have better conditions at work. If you accept these unpaid trials, give up your holiday pay and do not say anything when your boss pays you under the minimum wage, when you leave your workplace, your boss will look for another compliant worker like you. So finally, we will all be working for free.

So, next time your boss ask you for a trial:

- Ask them how long it is going to be.

- Remind them that they have to pay you if you are going to work for them.

- If they do not want to pay you for working, just explain to them that you are only required to work shadowing another employee. This means that you carry out no work and you are only observing.

If you have already carried out an unfair free trail shift in your workplace start organising! Collectivise this grievance with your workmates, and demand you are paid what is yours and stop any exploitation.

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This article was published on 16 August 2016 by the SolFed group in Brighton. Other recent articles:

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