A new survey aimed at grooms who may be classed as “working pupils” aims to uncover “the truth behind these practices”.
Having been contacted by a number of people who are given training on the job, and so might be labelled as working pupils, the British Grooms Association (BGA) has launched the online questionnaire to find out whether they are being employed within the law.
The equestrian industry has long featured working pupils, who work on yards and are given training in return.
But BGA and Equestrian Employers Association executive director Lucy Katan said: “Although a rider or employer would like to take someone under their wing and give them an exceptional opportunity to train and learn, quite often such arrangements have ended in tears with the ‘student’ not receiving the training promised.
“Advertising using the term and arrangement, both on your own website and publicly via social media simply puts you at risk of an investigation.”
Nicole Adams, a solicitor specialising in employment law at Clarke Willmott LLP, pointed out that the term “working pupil” has no legal or employment status, and traditional pupils are likely legally to be employees.
These grooms still have to be paid the minimum wage and benefit from workers’ rights such as paid holidays and sick leave, and employers may not offer training in lieu of money.
They can, with the employee’s consent, give training, then deduct the amount owing for this from wages, but this must be invoiced, and the training provided.
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Ms Katan said: “We strongly advise employers to make these positions a thing of the past and ensure that they are employing all staff legally to protect their business and to avoid steep fines and prosecution.”
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