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Advert asking potential recruits for three days’ unpaid ‘induction’ pulled by B&Q

B&Q forced to pull a job advert requiring applicants to do a three-day unpaid induction programme and pay for a drugs test

The advert for order-pickers at its Swindon warehouse was brought to the retail giant’s attention by the Guardian newspaper, with a spokesperson for B&Q saying it had been published in error and contravened the company’s standard recruitment procedures. In addition to the three-day induction course, candidates had been expected to pay £15 for a drug screening test, with the money to be refunded if they passed.

While B&Q said it was unaware of the content of the job advert, its publication highlights the often complex system when third-party employment agencies are used to recruit low-paid staff for major retailers.

The advert had been placed on B&Q’s behalf by Wincanton, a publicly-quoted warehouse and supply chain operator that manages the company’s Swindon site; however, it originated from Newport-based agency GB Recruitment. The advert was then sent to the government-supported company Seetec, which aims to get jobseekers back into work.

Nick Fry, an employment specialist with law firm Bindmans, said the advert was highly irregular and potentially illegal, as workers should always be paid for the work they do. An induction usually takes place once a contract has been formally agreed, he explained, but the advert suggested the three-day course was not a firm offer of work but part of the recruitment process.

A spokesperson for Wincanton also denied any knowledge of the advert’s content before it was published, saying that the operator was working closely with the agency responsible to ensure it adhered to the company’s policy on recruitment and pay.

This is not the first time the Guardian newspaper has clashed with a major British retail chain. Towards the end of last year, journalists at the paper carried out an investigation into Sports Direct and revealed that the company was effectively paying its warehouse staff below the minimum wage and forcing them to undergo lengthy security checks without pay.

In the past few weeks, B&Q has again been in the news for the wrong reasons. It has recently become the subject of an online petition against its plans to cut Sunday pay rates and reduce its bank holiday rates for some shop workers in a move designed to help lift its hourly pay rates above the government’s new national living wage.

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