Teenager ‘feels like a slave’ after working for free at discount store

A teenager struggling to survive on benefits says he feels like a “slave” after not being paid for trial shifts at a discount store.

Lewis King claims he did 15 hours’ worth of unpaid shifts at Stack It High Sell It Cheap in Hull in preparation for what he hoped would be a permanent role.

However, manager Hafiza Riaz claims Mr King only did one full shift before “walking out” midway through his second shift – something he disputes.

However, Ms Riaz confirmed Mr King was not paid for any of the work he did at the store at the end of May.

He now wants the shop to reimburse him for his travel costs and for the hours he spent working in the store.

Mr King, 18, told Hull Live : “I worked for free and it felt like slave labour.

"I’m on Universal Credit and have £135 to live on a month after I’ve paid everything and I must have spent £20 of that on transport to get to the shop.

“£20 is a big chunk of money for me and losing that has left me struggling. It’s about a fifth of my money and it leaves me out of pocket.

“I could have used that money to go and see my mum but instead I’ve spent it on something else.

"I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of and I am desperate because £135 a month is pretty much nothing.”

Mr King, who helped to unload stock and carry out transactions on the tills, says he worked three shifts on May 29, May 31 and June 1, before being told he could not get the hours he wanted to work for another two months.

However, Ms Riaz says the teenager worked one five-hour shift before disappearing on his second shift without telling any members of staff.

She said: “He did one shift and then he came the next time and just left without telling me. I asked other staff and they said he just left without telling anyone.

“He didn’t do 15 hours. He did a few hours as a trainee and we are allowed to give out one shift without pay as a trainee.”

Mr King came out of care just a few months ago and has managed to find a flat in the city centre.

However, he has made a desperate plea for a job so that he can carry on supporting himself financially when he starts college later this year.

“It’s been a struggle ever since I left care,” Mr King said. “I was moved to Doncaster but moved back to Hull and stayed in a hostel for two months.

"But I stopped paying rent because of mice and I had to find a private tenancy.

“It was the cheapest I could afford and I want to try and get a job to fund that. I’m trying to find whatever work I can – I enjoy bar work and I’ve had experience in that but I’m trying to find any job I can.”

Ms Riaz could not confirm whether or not Mr King would have been offered a job but said if he had he would have been employed on a zero-hours contract.

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