Many employers require prospective employees to undergo induction training before they are taken onto the payroll – but, during such training, are prospects entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage (NMW)? The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) addressed that issue in an instructive decision.
The case concerned a care professional who was offered a job by a company that provided home-based services for adults. She was required to carry out a week of induction training before she was given a formal employment contract to sign. The training was compulsory and unpaid.
Her complaint that she should have been paid at least the NMW during the training period was rejected by an Employment Tribunal (ET) on the basis that she was not at that time employed by the company and would not have been permitted to carry out caring duties until she had completed her training. Her contract made plain that her employment only commenced after she had passed the training course.
Ruling on her challenge to that outcome, the EAT noted that she understood the training period would be unpaid and took no issue with that either at the time or when she signed her employment contract. The ET was entitled to conclude that, as a matter of pure contractual provision, she was not entitled to be paid during the induction course.
That conclusion, however, had no bearing on the issue of whether she was entitled to receive the NMW. The ET erred in law in failing to consider whether she had, prior to starting her training, entered into a contract with the company under which she was entitled to be treated as a worker, within the meaning of Section 54 of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.
The ET also failed to turn its mind to the question of whether the time she spent on the course fell to be treated as work time, within the meaning of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015. The woman contended that it did in that she attended the course under the company’s control and direction. The matter was remitted to the same ET for fresh consideration in the light of the EAT’s ruling.