I would like to start by saying that trial periods can offer many benefits to employers and potential employees, and generally an employer does not have to pay for a trial shift so long as it is truly a trial. However, businesses are encouraged to agree payment or expenses, if any, for a trial shift in advance. This way potential employees can enter into a contract with the employer and thus have the right to be paid anything that is agreed.
The Federation of Small Businesses have been keen to stress that trail shifts are a valuable part of the recruitment process for companies with limited resources and I firmly believe that this issue should be seen in the context of the fact that unemployment is at its lowest since 1975 and employment is at highest since 1971. The UK's flexible labour market gives our businesses a competitive advantage internationally, and works for the majority of the population.
However, exploitation is totally unacceptable, particularly when many of those affected are some of the most vulnerable members of society, and so I welcome the support the Government has provided to crack down on unfair practices. I am hugely encouraged that Andrew Griffiths MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, pledged in the debated on Friday the 16th March to work with MPs from different parties to address the issues raised from across the House. I have therefore written to the Minister to highlight your concerns and I will happily write to you again when I receive a response.
More broadly, I am encouraged that, in response to the Matthew Taylor review, new measures will be introduced to prevent undercutting by unscrupulous employers who try to game the system, by clearly defining who is employed and who is not. I also welcome that the Government will take further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker, as well as requiring employers to clearly set out written terms from day one of the employment relationship and to extend that to all workers.