Reading Employers Asked to Sign Up to New Gold Standard for Recruitment

A NEW Ethical Recruitment Charter will be launched at a special event in March and will ask Reading employers to sign up to a new recruitment ‘gold standard’  – including ensuring jobseekers are paid for all trial shifts.

Next month Reading Borough Council will become the first organisation in town to sign up to the new charter, which encourages and celebrates ethical recruitment practices by Reading’s employers. It is hoped other organisations in Reading will follow suit.

Reading’s new Ethical Recruitment Charter will be launched at a special event hosted in the Council Chamber on Thursday March 12th with speakers, a panel discussion and refreshments. Businesses and organisations are being invited to attend to find out more about the new charter and consider signing up.

Tickets for the launch event – which runs from 6.30pm to 8.30pm – are now available via a dedicated Eventbrite website at

The new Ethical Recruitment Charter has been developed following a motion by Reading Borough Councillor Adele Barnett-Ward in January 2019. Cllr Barnett-Ward’s motion called for action on unpaid trial shifts for prospective employees and highlighted that ‘legislation around the use of unpaid trial shifts for prospective employees is unclear and allows unscrupulous employers to exploit job seekers.’

The final agreed motion states that the Council believes:

  • That workers should be paid for their work, including training time
  • That making a job offer conditional on the job seeker being willing and able to work for free is a discriminatory practice, particularly disadvantaging job seekers with caring responsibilities, or who require special accommodations to work
  • That responsible employers who require trial shifts before making an offer of employment should pay the applicant at least the national minimum wage for the time they work

As a result, Council officers were asked to develop an accreditation scheme that encourages and celebrates ethical recruitment practices by Reading’s employers and which includes – but is not limited to – a commitment to paying people during any trial period.

Over the past year the Council has worked in partnership with Ethical Reading to develop a ‘gold standard’ for recruitment in the town. Based on the three pillars of Respect, Transparency, and Fairness, the Ethical Recruitment Charter provides support and advice to employers and a guarantee to customers and potential employees.

The charter includes commitments to respect the law and regulations surrounding recruitment and treat job applicants with respect, to be transparent in all dealings with applicants and to treat applicants fairly and courteously.

Employers, recruiters, and other interested parties attending the event on March 12th will hear from a panel of experts. There will be  discussion on why recruitment needs to go beyond compliance, how employers and recruiters can ‘walk the talk’, the key place of recruitment in the workplace and what ethics has to do with it all.

Ethical Reading has been supported by Eximius Group in developing the charter and funding the Ethical Recruitment Charter website.

Councillor Barnett-Ward said:

“I want to thank Ethical Reading for their support and enthusiasm for this project. I launched this campaign to prevent Reading’s job seekers being forced to work or free: the Ethical  Recruitment Charter that we have developed together does that, but goes beyond banning unpaid trial shifts to establishing a gold standard for recruitment.

“The charter gives employers the information and guidance they need to treat every applicant with the respect, transparency and fairness that they deserve. I would like to invite employers and stakeholders to join us at the launch on the 12th March to learn more about this exciting and innovative scheme.”

Reading Borough Council Chief Executive Peter Sloman said:

“Reading Borough Council has a deep belief in fair practice and equal opportunities and has never asked any jobseeker to work for free on a trial basis.  Ethical recruitment is also essential if access to vital jobs is to be available to everyone with the talent and  qualities to perform in the roles available.  We are proud to have contributed to the development of this charter and proud to be setting a ‘gold standard’ for employment Reading.”

Oscar Mortali

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