Job Application: trial period

Friday, January 22nd, 2010 - Job Advert, Job Application, job offers

Job Application: trial period

Elaborate job application proceures

Claire, a job seeker, asks: Is this employer taking advantage of me? I gave my CV into a cafe to apply for a job as a waitress, and the next day she called me asking if I could come and work for a 2hr non-paid trial? The following day, I came in and ended up working 4.5hrs and she paid me £9 as I worked longer than she asked. At the end she told me all the positives and weaknesses about me, and that she had to see what the other staff thought of me to decide whether I was the right person for the job and she said she’d give me a call that night. I got the call three days later, asking me to come in for another 3hrs on Saturday for another non-paid trial. I agreed, but is she taking advantage of me because she knows I really want a job, and how many non-paid trials is she allowed to give me?

In answer:
Yes, she is taking the mickey, and you are doing yourself no favours either. Employers can get away with this behaviour, because they know that you know there are few jobs and lots of job seekers.

But lets be clear on employment law here first. If she offers you a trial, she needs to pay you – at least minimum wage. Now, you may accept that trial as unpaid, your choice, but she needs to offer to pay you. Secondly, whether you are paid or other wise, you need some form of health and safety briefing or training.

Accepting the first trial I can understand. Doing the second trial is just daft – even if paid. What you are saying to her, is that you don’t value yourself – and I am sure that is not true. Secondly, why does she need a second trail if she’s the boss? Get her to make a decision.

Here is the way I would play it. Ring her up (these things are easier to do on the phone) and say:

  1. I did your trial last week, so you know I can do the job
  2. If your issue is will I get on with the staff, you have a trial period, so if I don’t work out you can get rid of me
  3. I am happy to work a normal shift as an employee on Saturday, as long as I am an employee paid a wage, and accept that I am subject to a trail period
  4. When do I need to report to your premises on Saturday, and what paperwork do you want me to bring to sign a contract of employment?

If she says no, a further non-paid trial period is necessary, then advise her that she should have paid your for four and half hours last week, but you accepted a trial on the basis that if it worked out you would be employed. Having worked twice the time she advised a trial was required for, you see no point in extending a trail further to see if you can do the job, as fitting in with the team is her choice as the employer within an employed trial period anyway.

If she still says no, just a free trial – say thank you, but no thank you. Finally, reminder her of your telephone number, and then – walk away, and look for a better employer.

Good Luck!


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