A petition by a Glasgow waitress to ban unpaid work trials has reached the 10,000 needed to force a Government response.

Ellen Reynolds, launched the petition last year calling for the practice to be outlawed.

When it expired this week, after being open for six months, it had gathered 10,216 signatures, which means the UK Government will respond to it.

Ellen had taken the action after she worked for five hours in a Bearsden restaurant with no pay when applying for a job.

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Her petition stated: “Unpaid trial shifts are open to exploitation as they can be used by unscrupulous employers to take advantage of vulnerable people looking for a job. Often unpaid trials are for minimum wage jobs and the people applying for them cannot afford to work for free but may have no other option.

Ellen said: “The support was really good. It shows how widespread the issue is and it has been going on for years. People agree because they have experienced it.

“I am worried that post covid there will be an increase in unpaid trial shifts again with so many people looking for work.

“It is a grey area but it wouldn’t be hard to introduce a law with minimum wage legislation to stop it being a grey area.”

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Stewart McDonald, Glasgow South SNP MP, has been campaigning to ban the practice and proposed a Bill which was rejected in the House of Commons.

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He said: “Many people will have been pushed into a position through no fault of their own into accepting unpaid work trials - with some employers asking applicants to work for hours, days, or even weeks without any payment or guarantee of a job at the end of it.

“It is clear from the petition that there is still appetite amongst the public to ban these immoral unpaid trial shifts.

“Now that the UK Government have been forced into giving a response, I hope they will see the extent of feeling against exploitative unpaid shifts and consider a ban on unpaid work trials.”

In a previous UK Government response on unpaid work trials, Minister for Business, Paul Scully, said a person may be asked carry out tasks, without payment, to help the employer to decide if they the skills and qualities required for the job.

He added: “There are no definitive rules or tests. Work trials have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis by HMRC enforcement officers and, where necessary, by courts and tribunals. They will take account of the precise detail of the arrangements.”

Factors would include whether a ‘work trial’ is genuinely for recruitment purposes.

Including: “Whether the trial length exceeds the time that the employer would reasonably need to test the individual’s ability to carry out the job offered and the extent to which the individual is observed while carrying out the tasks.”