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Campaign for employers to reimburse candidates’ travel expenses is launched

Debut, the award-winning student and graduate careers app has launched its ‘Getting There’ campaign today, which will lobby Government to introduce guidelines for employers to proactively offer travel reimbursement for all ‘in-person’ interviews, to better support the UK’s labour force and improve social mobility.

The campaign is in response to research undertaken by Debut, which revealed that the average cost of attending an in-person interview is £41, equivalent to eight percent of the average family’s weekly household spend.

The research has revealed that graduates entering the job market attend an average of six ‘in-person’ interviews amounting to a cost of £246. For those already in employment, over half (51%) said they have taken a day of annual leave to attend an interview – worth £117.46[ii]. This, in addition to the cost of travel, is often not achievable on the average monthly budget.

The ‘Getting There’ campaign is underpinned by a petition which will be presented, in addition to the research, to the Department for Work and Pensions. The campaign and petition will urge the Government to outline official recommendations for employers to put a proactive reimbursement plan in place, to support candidates in their search for work. Best practice employers who already offer to reimburse all or a percentage of a candidate’s travel costs include: Siemens, E.ON and Capgemini.

How it can work

As part of the campaign research, Debut has consulted candidates and employers to define the best travel reimbursement plan that can work for all parties. It was agreed that the cost covered by the candidate should be a maximum of £20, and anything thereafter should be reimbursed in the following way, with a cap of £100, and only if valid proof of purchase is submitted to the employer:

For candidates who are asked to travel from outside the UK for interviews, it will be up to the employer’s discretion to cover more than £100, but the recommendation will be to agree this beforehand on a case-by-case basis.

Charlie Taylor, Founder and CEO of Debut comments on the ‘Getting There’ campaign:  “As the only mobile app in the UK that is proactively supporting a mobile-first generation with their transition from education into employment, we are very close to the issues that young people face. However, our research quickly revealed that this isn’t a problem faced only by the younger generations.  All people of working age are affected by this shortfall, which is having a knock-on effect on the movement of people and the speed at which the labour market moves.

“Because we, at Debut, are modernising the way in which employers recruit, and applicants apply – via mobile –  we think our powerful data and our progressive approach puts us in a strong position to identify issues that candidates are facing and lobby for small but important changes that will have a positive effect on each individual, and the UK economy.”

Stephen Isherwood, CEO of the Institute of Student Employers is fully committed to pushing the campaign forward, based on his knowledge of employers failing to support candidates’ requirements:  “Our organisation did a member survey last year to ask how many student and graduate employers were proactively offering reimbursement for interview-related travel – the shocking fact is that just 26 percent of them are already doing so.

“Some employers do offer reimbursement, but fail to communicate this fact publicly, before the application stage. This could deter students who can’t afford the travel. The best practice is for employers to communicate what they offer in terms of reimbursement on their careers pages – that way there’s no grey area. It’s often not a case of ‘refusing to pay’ for travel, but more about a level of uncertainty about what to cover, and how much to cap it at. These national recommendations for all employers will clear that up.

“The ISE fully supports the ‘Getting There’ campaign, and we look forward to sharing the recommendations with our 300 members.”

Debut is also responsible for the Fight For Feedback campaign, which is currently being reviewed by Ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions – the campaign received national support when it launched in May 2017 with backing from the UK’s leading HR stakeholders including the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) Investors in People (IIP), Business in the Community (BITC) and Federation of Small Business (FSB) amongst others, and hopes to receive official government support later this year.