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I'm 17 still in sixth form, but I'm currently on holiday break. Yesterday I started "training" at a fairly new tea shop (opened last december, running for roughly 7 or so months now) but I helped with everything from setup, cashier, drink making, cleaning and closing shop working 9:30am to 7:30pm. It was my first day and although I didn't help with making most of the teas (since they hadn't taught me yet) I thought it was a lot of work for "unpaid training". I signed myself up for 6 more days of training in a row, but the manager said everything will not be paid. She said only after I complete an 80hr training and pass an on-boarding test will I be get to be paid the national minimum wage £4.05 an hour.

I've only worked one day but it was 10hrs.

Is this legally right in the UK?

I asked my co-workers today and they said they completed unpaid training too. The second youngest after me said she applied to a different restaurant before saying she had unpaid training too, although most of my friends had jobs with paid training.

How can I respond to her?

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I can't help you with the UK but this would be 100% illegal in Australia.

Unpaid trials are permitted of a reasonable duration sufficient to establish if the candidate has the requisite skills. For a hospitality worker 2-3 hours would be reasonable.

Unpaid work experience is allowed if it is part of a program of education provided by a school or university.

Unpaid internships are allowed provided the internship is for the education of the intern and their work output is incidental to that purpose. If the intern is doing work the company would otherwise have to pay someone to do it's not an internship.

Other than that, all work including training must be paid.

  • Okay thank for your input, I asked my co-workers today and they said they completed unpaid training too. The second youngest after me said she applied to a different restaurant before saying she had unpaid training too. – Mcxmelody Jul 30 '17 at 17:00
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According to the UK government, at https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage/who-gets-the-minimum-wage, those who must receive minimum wage include "trainees [and] workers on probation." There are some exceptions, though, so do visit the page and have a look at the whole thing.

At the bottom, you'll see a reference to the ACAS helpline for assistance finding out whether you should be receiving minimum wage.

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It's not illegal to train people without paying them; it's almost certainly illegal to expect these "trainees" to do the work of an employee. Nobody outside the company can say which situation you are in here; the first step in an investigation would be to get a copy of your employment contract ("All employees have an employment contract with their employer... An employment contract doesn't have to be written down." from the relevant government website) and take it to somebody knowledgeable, probably at a Citizens' Advice Bureau, though you might try the ACAS website helpline.

If your employer expects you to learn on the job and objects to paying the minimum wage for unskilled labour, they are breaking the law and you can insist on being paid for the hours you have worked (though you needn't expect to be invited back). On the other hand, drawing the line between "Set that table while I take notes and tell you what you are doing wrong" (training exercise, unpaid) and "Set those tables while I work the till: I'll tell you if you do anything wrong" (useful work, must be paid) is not easy to draw even for an employment lawyer, let alone a 17-year-old with no experience of work.

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