B&Q Removes Advert Asking Workers to Attend Unpaid Induction

Employment Experts Question ‘Ill-advised’ Advert


Oliver Wicks, Press Officer | 0114 274 4649

DIY specialist B&Q has withdrawn an advertisement at its Swindon warehouse that required jobseekers to work three days’ induction for free and pay for a drugs test.

Leading employment lawyers at law firm Irwin Mitchell have called the advert ‘ill-advised’ and said that inductions take place once someone has accepted an offer of employment and should therefore be paid.  They are not usually part of the recruitment process.

The advert allegedly stated that ‘Each candidate will undergo three-day induction programme which will be unpaid’. It also informed potential candidates that they would have to pay £15 to take a drugs test, but this money would be refunded if they passed the test.

B&Q has recently been in the headlines after cuts to their workers’ wages. A B&Q manager recently anonymously launched a petition, which now has over 130,000 supporters, on change.org, calling for the home & DIY retailer to rethink its cuts to workers’ wages and changes to bank holidays.

Employment specialist Fergal Downing from national law firm Irwin Mitchell says that the ill-conceived advert has clearly caused further embarrassment for the company at a time when it is already under pressure from workers groups about its decision to change the terms and conditions of its staff, allegedly in response to the introduction of the National Living Wage which came into force on 1 April 2016.

Expert Opinion
“Whilst it is positive to see that B&Q has quickly removed the advert, it was certainly ill-advised and has caused the company reputational damage.

“Generally, the law requires that, all workers are entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage rate for any work they complete. This will usually include time spent being inducted into their new role.

“Individuals who join organisations as volunteers or to gain work experience are the only category of workers who are not entitled to be paid for the work they undertake, although many do receive expenses, such as travel expenses.

“With the company already under pressure due to changes to current workers’ contracts, this advert will have done little to improve people’s perception of the company and may have affected the morale of current workers.

“It also reiterates the importance of employees carefully reading their contract or offer letter before signing it, so they know exactly what they’re entitled to and there are no surprises when their job begins.”
Fergal Dowling, Partner