MPs bid to abolish ‘free work’ in hospitality industry

Stewart McDonald MP.
Stewart McDonald MP.

Glasgow South’s MP will tomorrow launch a private member’s Bill in a bid to put a stop to an “exploitative” hospitality industry practice.

SNP MP Stewart McDonald wants to ban firms from hiring staff for unpaid trial shifts – said to total up to 40 hours work – before they are offered a job.

His Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill will force employers to pay staff for all time worked, whether or not they are then offered a job.

Mr McDonald says the practice, said to be common in bars and restaurants, is clearly exploitative, but that it’s a grey area in terms of employment law – meaning that workers, particularly young people, migrants and students, are open to abuse.

He isn’t opposed to trial periods, but argues nobody should be forced to work for free in the hope of gaining regular employment.

He said: “People deserve to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect, and have full protection of the law to ensure they are not exploited.”

Mr McDonald wants to work with employers, unions, and politicians from across the political spectrum to finally put an end to a system which grossly disadvantages people trying to find work in a sector which in many venues already suffers from notoriously poor pay and conditions.