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  1. #1
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    Apr. 4, 2011
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    Default unpaid working trial ?

    So I'm just trying to grasp how 'normal' this is...

    I am scheduled to do a working trial this week for a new job. It has been offered to me in such a way as, "We like you, but the last person sucked and we want to make sure we don't hire another like her, so can you do a trial ..." I am not in a position to miss an opportunity, so I said yes. It is a job I think I would really like a lot and do very well at.

    I have to travel 5+ hrs from my current location and be there for the week. (Unrelated to them, I happen to be flat ass broke), but it has not been offered as a paid trial, and I am not being provided food or money for food.

    I got a great impression from the people when I went to interview. All the horses looked great, the farm is nice, the housing for whoever fills the position is cute, the job seems perfect ... all in all, it seeeems good. But, how common is an unpaid trial in the horse world? I honestly don't know.



  2. #2
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    Feb. 22, 2007
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    Default

    Sounds questionable to me. Most barn jobs I've worked (and hired other people for) require a trial period, but generally it is paid, sometimes a bit less than the standard salary if it's kind of a trial and training period, but something reasonable still. Granted, my experience isn't ridiculously huge or anything, but that's been what I've found. I'd wonder about someone who didn't want to pay for my labor on a trial period, like what else they'd get cheap on.

    edit: can you say what kind of position it is? I actually have heard of that for working student positions, but that's about it.



  3. #3
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    Dec. 22, 2000
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    Not normal at all, in my experience.

    Not normal even for a day, never mind a whole week.

    I'm imagining a scenario where they "hire" different people for a "trial week" without paying them, then always find a reason not to keep them after the free week is up.

    Call me a cynic.



  4. #4
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    Mar. 10, 2006
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    Default

    I understand the trial period; where either one of you gets to say "no thanks" but you are foolish to accept no pay for the week. What's the point of that? I would be very wary - only a real tightwad would do that - if you go ahead and do it, I would be interested to hear about the next phase - ok, they say, next you can have a three month paid trial at half pay or something?

    One thing you can insist on is that if they decide to hire you after than one week, they need to pay you for the week, and you will agee to working without pay for that one week only if once you are hired you are hired completely. Tell them you are not the person who blew them off - if they think enough of you to offer you the job, they need to follow through.

    Then, if they blow you off, for being that reasonable, I would say good riddance and figure it was some kind of scam - that you dodged the bullet on that one!!

    Good luck, I know its hard to need a job...
    Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.



  5. #5
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    Apr. 27, 2008
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    Default

    As a business person who doesn't know alot about working student positions ... this is fine. Even good. Both sides can try each other on without having to commit - once everyone is ready to commit, they can do so in a more informed way.

    I realize this could be unusual in the horse world. But it's common in business to have people come on as contractors for some period of time, and only if both sides are ready to commit are they converted to employees. If either party decides this was not a good fit, there is no messy record of a termination or quit. And no one is sticking with it and miserable just to avoid that record.

    Employment on the basis of one or two interviews is almost like getting married to someone you have met twice. Only after both sides have some experience of the union do they realize what they got into. And it's often not easy to end without hanging issues and consequences.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MHM View Post
    Not normal at all, in my experience.

    Not normal even for a day, never mind a whole week.

    I'm imagining a scenario where they "hire" different people for a "trial week" without paying them, then always find a reason not to keep them after the free week is up.

    Call me a cynic.
    'twould be interesting to show up a day ahead of time just 'to say you're here, see you tomorrow' etc. and see if there is someone else there working for a free week.
    Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.



  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherRound View Post
    ...
    One thing you can insist on is that if they decide to hire you after than one week, they need to pay you for the week, ...
    They should pay for the week of work regardless. imo


    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherRound View Post
    'twould be interesting to show up a day ahead of time just 'to say you're here, see you tomorrow' etc. and see if there is someone else there working for a free week.
    Good idea.



  8. #8
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    Dec. 22, 2000
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherRound View Post
    'twould be interesting to show up a day ahead of time just 'to say you're here, see you tomorrow' etc. and see if there is someone else there working for a free week.
    Yes!

    Maybe they schedule the free weeks with a day in between as a buffer.

    Or maybe you would get there and find another person doing the same free week, and it's a contest to see who works harder to get the job. Then at the end of the week, both people go home without getting hired, but the barn looks fantastic!

    The possibilities are endless- in a bad way.

    Best of luck to the OP.



  9. #9
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    Apr. 4, 2011
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    Default

    I know, MHM, I don't want to think negatively on a potentially great opportunity, but this makes me nervous. And, having known LOTS of sketchy folks in the horse world, I also immediately thought of that scenario.

    AnotherRound, I only recently was told that it there was no food $ involved, and I was never offered pay (though they are housing me). So I would assume that they would say, "No we are not feeding you but we will pay you XX," if they were paying me.

    I am certainly not in a position to turn anything down at this point. I am in final-round interviews with this place and two others and surely karma would say that if I turn this down than the other two places will fall through. And, certainly some places just run a little loosely. But, where a one-day unpaid trial would not be out of the question, I am spending $$ to drive my butt up there and work for a whole week without being fed or paid? It just makes me nervous ><



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OverandOnward View Post
    I realize this could be unusual in the horse world. But it's common in business to have people come on as contractors for some period of time, and only if both sides are ready to commit are they converted to employees. If either party decides this was not a good fit, there is no messy record of a termination or quit. And no one is sticking with it and miserable just to avoid that record.
    To come on as a contractor or temporary worker is fine. But, the worker is still paid.

    When someone is hired as an unpaid intern (or working student), and there is no pay because it is an educational experience, that is one thing. Interns usually are set up to get college credit, for example.

    To have someone come on for no pay entirely is not normal.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by saaskya View Post
    I know, MHM, I don't want to think negatively on a potentially great opportunity, but this makes me nervous. And, having known LOTS of sketchy folks in the horse world, I also immediately thought of that scenario.

    AnotherRound, I only recently was told that it there was no food $ involved, and I was never offered pay (though they are housing me). So I would assume that they would say, "No we are not feeding you but we will pay you XX," if they were paying me.

    I am certainly not in a position to turn anything down at this point. I am in final-round interviews with this place and two others and surely karma would say that if I turn this down than the other two places will fall through. And, certainly some places just run a little loosely. But, where a one-day unpaid trial would not be out of the question, I am spending $$ to drive my butt up there and work for a whole week without being fed or paid? It just makes me nervous ><
    Can you just ask them for clarity? Have they said point blank that there's no pay? Can you say something like, "Just so we're completely clear, I'll be coming up on day X and leaving day Y and working 8 hours for each of those days. What rate will I be paid at for this trial, and if you decide to hire me, when you decide and when would I start?"
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket



  12. #12
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    Sep. 1, 2006
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    Default

    I've seen only one barn do this - several times - and it's shady as hell. The "interviewee" was put on the difficult horses, did some stall cleaning, taught some lessons and was dismissed after a few days as not right for the job.

    I would be very suspicious.



  13. #13
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    Default

    If they truly don't plan to pay you, I expect over time you're going to have more problems with being paid for the work that you do. That's not to say you might not want to give it a shot given your current alternatives, but your spidey sense is probably already telling you there's something to worry about.

    I think you can also quite reasonably respond, "I'm very excited about working for you and I can appreciate that you'd like to do a trial period, but I can't work for you at my own expense. I'm a great worker and at the very least I need..." and then decide what that is, even if it's just enough to cover your gas and your food.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by saaskya View Post
    So I would assume that they would say, "No we are not feeding you but we will pay you XX," if they were paying me.... And, certainly some places just run a little loosely.
    I would not assume anything.

    Before I got in my car and drove one foot out of my driveway, I would call them back and ask how much I will be getting paid for the trial week.

    If it's a place that's run a little loosely, their response should be, "Oh, sorry. Didn't we discuss that? It will be x per day, plus your housing for the week." Bonus points for: "Do we need to give you some gas money since you're driving 5 hours to get here?"

    Any other response would not satisfy me. "Run loosely" and "run badly" are not always the same thing. "Run loosely" and "run well" are also not always the same thing.

    "Run without thinking you have to pay your help"? Always a bad thing!



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by poltroon View Post
    I think you can also quite reasonably respond, "I'm very excited about working for you and I can appreciate that you'd like to do a trial period, but I can't work for you at my own expense."
    This part sounds good.

    "I'm a great worker and at the very least I need..." and then decide what that is, even if it's just enough to cover your gas and your food.
    This part sounds like if you get the job, you could get stuck negotiating your salary up from your food-and-gas pay rate, rather than starting at the normal rate for the job at hand.

    Sorry, I just see a lot of potential land mines in this whole situation.



  16. #16
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    I might be willing to do a trial day unpaid if I *really* wanted the job and had heard good things about the employers.

    But an entire week?? And I have to drive five hours for this stellar opportunity? HELL no. Your time is worth something, even if it's just minimum wage. And if you've got a reasonable amount of knowledge and experience in the horse industry, your time is worth more than minimum wage.

    If they want to give you a trial to see whether you're a good fit, they can pay you for that time. It's called a probationary period, and quite a few businesses, including the one I work for, use them for new hires to make sure the person is going to work out. New hires get paid, but benefits don't kick in until after the probationary period ends.

    Somehow I am not surprised they're having trouble with their barn help if they're that reluctant to actually pay them.
    Full-time bargain hunter.



  17. #17
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    Mar. 13, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by OverandOnward View Post
    As a business person who doesn't know alot about working student positions ... this is fine. Even good. Both sides can try each other on without having to commit - once everyone is ready to commit, they can do so in a more informed way.

    I realize this could be unusual in the horse world. But it's common in business to have people come on as contractors for some period of time, and only if both sides are ready to commit are they converted to employees. If either party decides this was not a good fit, there is no messy record of a termination or quit. And no one is sticking with it and miserable just to avoid that record.

    Employment on the basis of one or two interviews is almost like getting married to someone you have met twice. Only after both sides have some experience of the union do they realize what they got into. And it's often not easy to end without hanging issues and consequences.
    Are you serious? Do you actually know contractors who would work for a week for free? That's total B.S. I've worked as a contractor and as a direct hire and there is no effing way I would give them a week gratis. I'd rather collect unenjoyment than give a week of free work. I have never, ever in my working life heard of this.
    Yogurt - If you're so cultured, how come I never see you at the opera? Steven Colbert



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by OverandOnward View Post
    As a business person who doesn't know alot about working student positions ... this is fine. Even good. Both sides can try each other on without having to commit - once everyone is ready to commit, they can do so in a more informed way.
    As another business person, this is absolutely not fine. In fact, this is ridiculous, regardless of industry. A trial period is fine. I am on a trial period for a new client, as a matter of fact, to see if we really suit each other. But I am paid for my time, my experience and my skills for the duration of that period. If we do not suit, I will not work for that client further. If we do, we will make the relationship permanent. Regardless, I am paid for any work I do for this client. That is what is normal in the business world, in any business world.

    In the situation described in the OP, the "trial" should include travel costs and lodging covered by potential employer and a regular salary, or at the very least, a stipend for the week, agreed in advance and spelled out in a contract.

    If the relationship proves unworkable in that week, fine; the OP is not hired on a permanent basis. But s/he absolutely should be paid for her time and effort. No skilled professional would work for free, trial period or not.
    Equinox Equine Massage

    In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
    -Albert Camus



  19. #19
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    Mar. 9, 2006
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    I've heard of unpaid internships under very special circumstances. I've never heard of an unpaid trial period. Ignoring the morality of not paying you for work you do, I don't like your description at all from a liability and workers' comp perspective.

    Say that one of their horses puts you in the hospital. Or a horse breaks away while you're leading it in from the pasture, runs out into the road, and gets hit by a car. How are they going to handle the situation? If they aren't paying you, will they then deny that you are an employee and leave you stuck with the bills?



  20. #20
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    Apr. 4, 2011
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    coloredhorse, I certainly feel this way and am starting to feel more justified about it. I have a lot of experience and am coming from a place where I worked my ass off taking care of 100 horses with one other girl part time, so I am a very hard worker with lots of attention to detail and good time management skills.

    Sooo I'm glad that I'm not completely off base in feeling like compensation should be offered in some form. I really don't even have the gas money to get there, though I am spending it because I do feel that this would be a great position if it worked out.

    I have e-mailed the guy, as I feel it is a little late to call him, with my questions and will certainly make phone contact before driving up there tomorrow. I don't want to be a cynic but this is the horse world and people, as we know, can be krazy.



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