B&Q has withdrawn a job advertisement for workers at its Swindon warehouse, one which was asking for applicants to undergo an unpaid three day long “induction”.
“Each candidate will undergo three-day induction programme which will be unpaid,” the advertisement read.
Candidates were also required to pay £15 for a drug test, which they would be refunded for after passing.
B&Q quickly withdrew the ad after it was brought to the company’s attention by The Guardian.
“We were unaware of this advert and these terms and conditions are in no way reflective of our standard policy,” said a B&Q spokesperson. “We are working with Wincanton to have this advert removed immediately and to ensure our standard policy is followed for payment and recruitment of staff.”
The Swindon warehouse is run by Wincanton, which recruits staff through an employment agency, GB Recruitment. Government employed training and employment provider Seetec alerted jobseekers about the ad.
Jobseekers can be fined for not applying to positions when they become available. Seetec is an administrator for the Department for Work and Pensions, directly related to governmental attempts to bring more people into work. This raises questions about just what recruitment agencies acting on behalf of retailers attempt to get away with when hiring new workers, many of whom will have little choice but to apply. A Seetec representative said it was the company’s job to alert candidates to potential roles, though she did admit the company’s responsibility to ensure such positions offered fair terms and conditions.
"An induction is usually carried out after a person has been taken on to do the job and it's paid," said Nick Fry, Employment Specialist at the law firm Bindmans.
"Generally speaking, workers should be paid for days worked, under their employment contract. If there's an oral or written contract in place and the employment as started, they should be paid."
It also raises the question of just how much attention key retailers pay to the recruitment companies they hire at local levels. Morrisons recently found itself in an embarrassing situation when the agency handling recruitment for a new campaign said “nobody from Liverpool” need apply.
Though B&Q may be exempt from blame for the advertisement, this news will revive recent memories of the chain’s moves to lower bonus pay for workers by making them sign new contracts.