On Tuesday (18 July) Better Than Zero, a campaign by the Scottish Trades Union Congress set up to tackle exploitation in the hospitality industry, requested information on its Facebook page from anyone who had worked at the chef’s eponymous three-AA-rosette Edinburgh restaurant.
Greenaway responded by posting an open letter defending his restaurant for being ‘singled out’’ for an ‘entire industry standard’.
The chef said applicants for kitchen and front-of-house roles were required to take part in a two to four hour trial shift so both the restaurant and candidate could decide if the job was the right fit.
Staff are generally asked to complete simple tasks such as serving bread and butter, and stand at the pass to get a feel of how the kitchen is run.
Only candidates who successfully complete the trial and are offered a job will be paid.
“We do not and never have done this to get free labour or to fill a labour gap,” Greenaway wrote.
“This is as much for the candidate to look at us and decide if they want the relevant position and become part of our team, as it is for us to look at them. I also feel and the whole industry feel this is fair.”
The practice of unpaid trial shifts has come in to the spotlight this week after Glasgow South MP Stewart McDonald (SNP) lodged a private members’ bill in the Commons on Wednesday to try and end the practice.
He said that he had seen evidence of companies asking people to work up to 40 hours without pay, which was ‘not acceptable’ in the 21st century.
Willie MacLeod, executive director of the British Hospitality Association Scotland, told STV it was reasonable for businesses to request applicants to come along for a short ‘familiarisation session’.
BigHospitality has contacted Better Than Zero for further comment.