Many Bedford and Kempston constituents contacted me to voice their concerns in the lead up to the Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill, a debate for which was held on 13th March 2018. Nationally, over 140,000 people signed a petition calling for MPs to support the Bill. I had planned to speak on the issue but, unfortunately, the Government talked the bill out and so it will have to be rescheduled.
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 £1.2 billion of wages denied to workers every year. This is an example of an imbalance of power between employers and employees in the UK workplace that has led to the proliferation of low wage jobs and employers avoiding paying workers fairly. I believe that unpaid trial shifts are exploitative to workers. If people undertake work during a trial period then they should be fairly and properly paid.
The Labour Party Manifesto 2017 pledged to bring in a “20-point plan for security and equality at work”, including giving “all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent – so that working conditions are not driven down.
I fully support the Bill and although it is unclear how much progress it will be able to make through the House of Commons if the Government refuses to support it, I will continue to seek an end to unfair and exploitative trial shifts.