A bit like an intern

One of our clients contacted us recently about a “one-week work trial” for a potential new employee.

Essentially, they wanted the candidate to work for nothing, “a bit like an intern”, and if she was good, then they wanted us to put together a contract that started after the trial.

Our answer?


Unfortunately for our client, there is no legal definition of a “work trial”.

And you don’t want to be the one providing us with one by going to tribunal and paying a barrister £5,000 a day to argue your case.

The current default is that you HAVE to pay the national minimum wage to anyone working for longer than a day, and for reasons other than a recruitment assessment.

Which – before you ask – a one-week work trial isn’t.

They wanted her to do actual work on real projects so that they could evaluate her standards.

But by doing this they’re receiving “labour that has a value”, rather than just observing her behaviour.

And as the work would be continuous, her actual start date would be the start of the “work trial”.

Not when they decided to offer her a job and give her a contract.

If you think you’re saving yourself hassle by not providing a contract until you “know they are staying”, think again.

The written employment contract is there to protect YOU, the employer, not the employee.

Employees are protected, very vigorously, by employment law.

Without a contract you can’t legally pay them in lieu of notice or put them on gardening leave. Confidentiality is non-existent, and don’t get me started on the lack of a non-solicitation clause!

If you have any staff without contracts, who really should have them (from day one of working), give us a call and we can sort it out super quick!

A bit like an intern

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