A groom who was offered “considerably” less than the minimum wage by five prospective employers says she may have to leave the industry if attitudes do not change.
Sam Llewellyn has been working for a rider who adheres fully to employment law but as he has had to let her go, she has been looking for another post.
She contacted five people offering work, on social media, all of whom offered her a trial, but in each case paying well under the current legal minimum.
None of the jobs offered pensions, or to pay her tax or national insurance contributions – which bosses have to do for employed staff by law.
“One of them offered me £210, to work 8am to 5pm, six days a week,” Sam told H&H. “That wouldn’t even cover my mortgage.
“When I said that was well under the minimum wage, she said: ‘Well, it’s horses’, and that the minimum wage doesn’t apply to grooms.
“I think people have this ‘oh well, it’s horses’ attitude but it doesn’t matter what job it is. It’s not right; there’s nothing right about it.”
One employer told Sam she would have to registered as self-employed, although this would not have been legal either as it was a staff job, and the pay and hours were set by the boss.
“It was only because I read an article in H&H I realised this happens quite a lot,” she said. “If I was self-employed, I’d set my own hours and have my own rates of pay, but I know a lot of employers who do this.”
Sam says that she is happy to stay late if, as has happened before, a horse colics just before she is due to leave, for example, but that it is the continuous long days for no reward that she cannot do.
Pictures show the amazing transformation of a horse once kept locked inside and unable to walk
“I’ve got a little boy myself, and my mortgage; I can’t work for peanuts,” she said.
“I can’t be the only one in this situation. I’ve been a groom ever since I was 15 and I’ve got experience on a wide variety of yards, but I’m thinking now I might give up because it’s not worth it.
“If [employers] don’t look after people, what do they expect? Something’s got to change.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.