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Do you have to pay someone for a work trial?

Do you have to pay someone for a work trial?

There is debate by employers to whether or not they need to pay an individual for a work trial, therefore AWS have put together some top tips to look out for as both and employee and employer.

After looking into work trials, it is not necessary to pay the potential employee for the trial shift, as long as this is only a trial. This should be agreed in the form of a verbal contract between the employer and potential employee before the trial period begins.

The main issue concerning work trials is when a work trial turns into employment. In this instance minimum wage must be paid to the individual. The individual should discuss the details of the work trial with the employer prior to the trial. If the employer asks the individual to work a full shift or more, the individual must be paid at least national minimum wage. This has turned from a trial to beginning a contract of employment. The individual also has the right to refuse to work a shift or multiple shifts unpaid.

An employer, offering a trial to potential employees, must consider key areas. To begin with the employer must consider if the trial is genuinely for the recruitment process. The employer must also design the trial to test the individual’s ability. However if this trial was to take one full week, the employer should agree the terms with the individual initially, discussing any payments or expenses before the trial begins. The employer must consider the extent the individual is being observed throughout the trial. If they are not being observed continuously, the individual may see that they are actually carrying out a role rather than a trial. The nature of the trial also needs to be considered. How close is the trial compared to the job offer? Will the individual feel as though they are carrying out the job rather than the trial? The employer needs to consider if the tasks being carried out by the individual is beyond the test of the individual. If what is being carried out by the individual is important to the way the employer runs their business, is this really a trial?

The points above must be considered by an employer before carrying out a work trial. If the individual believes what they are doing is carrying out the job role and benefiting the business, if they are not being paid, they have high grounds for a tribunal claim. Therefore it is best practise to agree the terms of the trial with the individual before it begins. Ensure the trial is only to test the individual’s ability. The individual must be observed throughout the trial and must not be seen to be benefiting the business. If the trial exceeds the test of ability and the individual is seen to be working, they must be paid at least National Minimum wage.

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