If you’ve been offered to work a trial shift, is this just a case of an employer wanting a little free labour? Is it a genuine job opportunity? How can you tell the difference between the two?
In this post, we answer all your questions about trial shifts in the hospitality sector, explaining why employers offer them, and if they are a good way to get your foot in the door or simply a way of a business getting a free ride in terms of having you work for little or no money at all.
The Legalities of Trial Shifts in the UK
Let’s deal with the most pressing question of all; is it legal to not receive payment for a trial shift in the UK?
It’s not unusual to go for an interview and then be asked to come back in for a trial shift. Restaurants, bars, and hotels are typically the most likely culprits.
According to ACAS advice about the legality of trial shifts in the UK, a workplace trial can be unpaid if it is simply for a long enough period to demonstrate you have the skills to do a specific job. The suitable length of a trial will depend on the nature and complexity of the work. They can last from anything between one hour to a full shift. During all times in a workplace trial, it is expected that you will have clear supervision.
Work Trials – When Should You Be Paid?
If you are asked to work a second shift, then under UK Law, you should be compensated with at least the minimum wage for your time and efforts. If you have any expenses that you feel should be reimbursed, this should always be agreed in advance of any trial taking place.
If they want you to work without any supervision, this also means that you should receive pay for your trial.
Pros and Cons of Trial Shifts in the UK
Benefits of Working Trial Shifts in Hospitality
The advantage of attending a workplace trial is that it gives you a clear opportunity to prove your skills and ability to perform a role.
- It gives you the opportunity to see if the workplace and team are a good fit.
- If you lack real work experience, this is your opportunity to show you are up to the job.
- If you are moving from another industry, you can show that you have the ability to do the job.
Drawbacks of Working Trial Shifts in Hospitality
- You need to invest your time without any promise of a job offer at the end of the day.
- You might need to pay money to travel to do the trial without any reimbursement.
When you are asked to do a workplace trial in the UK, it should never be for anything longer than a single shift. There are certainly more benefits to doing one than refusing to do a trial; and at the end of the day, it could help you secure a job more quickly. What’s more, you will have already had the chance to meet the team and see what the working environment is like first-hand.
For those of you with a lack of experience in the hospitality sector, it can also help you get a foot in the door by proving to the employer that you are more than capable of doing the job before they hire you.
What are The Rules for Workplace Trials in the UK?
It is important to remember that any workplace trial is undertaken on a voluntary basis. It must be agreed to in writing and signed off by yourself and the employer.
It is also only available to people who have not worked for the company before. If you are asked to sign a contract or agreement for the trial period, then you need to make sure you are fully clear about what you are signing.
Ask questions! Here a couple that you can ask before your trial period.
- Make sure you understand what they are looking to verify by the trial.
- Ask them what will happen after the trial?
- How quickly will you find out if you have been successful?
- Ask them what their reservations are before the trial if any. This will help you understand what they want to see from you when you are carrying out your trial.
Trial Shifts Vs. Probationary Periods – What is the difference?
A trial shift is not to be mistaken for a probationary period. The two both offer employers the opportunity to evaluate your work and assess your suitability for a role. However, a probationary period will last for longer, and you have more employment rights during this time.
A probationary period can last between one week up to six months. A trial period can last anything from one hour to a full shift.
During a probationary period, you should expect to be paid in full for your work. A single trial shift is often done for free. If a secondary trial shift is requested, then you should be paid for this.
Employers in the hospitality sector offer workplace trials to make sure a person can perform the job satisfactorily. It can help them to identify any training needs quickly, and it gives them a clear idea of how you will fit into the role and gel with the rest of the team.
If someone has experience in another sector, it is a great way to see how easily they can transfer their skills into a new role. It can also show if a person is able to use various tools such as the billing or till system with ease, and, where possible if they are able to deal with customers in a pleasant and effective manner effectively.
It presents a great way to get your foot in the door, and really show an employer that you are able to the job before they hire you.