Philosophers at the University of Reading have helped create a charter aimed at protecting job seekers in the town from unfair recruitment practices.
The Ethical Recruitment Charter is being launched by Ethical Reading, a voluntary group whose members include representatives from Reading Borough Council, Thames Valley Police and large businesses, as well as the University.
The Charter is based on a Code of Ethics co-developed by academics at the University and commits those who sign it to adhere to a ‘gold standard’ of recruitment, including ensuring job applicants are always paid for trial shifts.
Reading Borough Council has become the first organisation to sign up to the new Charter as it was launched today (Thursday) at an event held in the Council Chamber. The University of Reading is also in the process of signing the charter, and it is hoped other Reading organisations will follow suit.
Professor Brad Hooker, from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Reading and Ethical Reading director, said: “Jobseekers being asked to work unpaid trial shifts is far more common than many people realise, and current legislation allows employers to request this as a condition of making a job offer. This takes advantage of jobseekers and their families who often suffer as a result due to loss of income and family commitments.
“The new Ethical Recruitment Charter draws upon the work of Philosophy experts at the University and seeks to create a respectful, transparent and fair environment for jobseekers, interns and even volunteers in Reading, while protecting them from exploitative practices.”
Ethical Reading was launched in January 2018 and encourages organisations in the town to behave ethically and engage with the community.
Several members of staff in Reading’s Department of Philosophy are also actively involved with Ethical Reading, including Professor Emma Borg who is on the Advisory Board and contributed to the Code of Ethics alongside Professor Hooker.
A number of Philosophy students from the University also contribute to the group, with one first-year volunteer providing research to support jobseekers making complaints about a recruitment process.
Reading Borough Councillor Adele Barnett-Ward, whose call for action on unpaid trial shifts at a council meeting in January 2019 led to the Charter being developed, 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 for 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.”