The SNP MSP Rona Mackay led a Scottish Parliament debate in support of a campaign that has seen a Private Members Bill introduced at Westminster which aims to ban unpaid shifts.
The Westminster bill has been introduced by Stewart McDonald, SNP MP for Glasgow South and is gaining cross party support.
Ms Mackay’s motion said the practice infringed workers’ rights and noted that young people were those most likely to be exploited.
It added that people working during a trial period should be paid for their work whether or not it leads to a permanent job.
Ms Mackay said: “Unpaid trial shifts, often with no paid work at the end, are nothing more than exploitation – and I am delighted to show my support for the campaign to ban the practice. “My colleague Stewart McDonald has worked hard to raise awareness of this important issue – and I am glad to have the opportunity to raise this and gain support at Holyrood.
“Young people are the most likely to face this exploitation – which is another bitter blow given they are already entitled to less money than their older colleagues for doing the same jobs because of the unfairness of the Tories’ minimum wage. “Bringing forward a ban of these toxic practices will make a real difference to the lives of many people throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK. “All people want is to be treated fairly – and banning unpaid trial shifts will be a step in the right direction in ensuring this happens for people across the country.”
Addressing MSPs, Ms Mackay described the practice as demeaning and soul destroying, adding that it had led to £1.2 billion in missing wages. It gives false hope to so many people desperate for a job – desperate to feed their families in a country where bankers get bonuses, directors of failing firms such as Carillion get massive pay-offs and unemployed young people are cheated of a day’s pay. This is shameless exploitation.”