Campaign calls on employers to pay interview travel costs

Lost pay and the cost of travel could be pricing many out of attending interviews and so hindering social mobility

A campaign has been launched to lobby government to introduce guidelines for employers to offer travel reimbursement for all ‘in-person’ interviews.

The 'Getting There' campaign, launched by student and graduate careers app Debut, is underpinned by a petition that will be presented to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Debut will also present research that found that the average cost of attending an in-person interview is £41, equivalent to 8% of the average family’s weekly household spend.

It 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, more than half (51%) said they have taken a day of annual leave to attend an interview – worth £117.46.

This, in addition to the cost of travel, could be pricing many out of attending interviews and hindering social mobility, Debut is warning.

The campaign is needed in light of findings such as those from the Institute of Student Employers, which revealed that just 26% of organisations proactively offer reimbursement for interview-related travel.

Debut 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 ways, and only if valid proof of purchase is submitted to the employer:

  • Micro businesses (10 employees or fewer and turnover under £2 million) should reimburse 20% of any costs up to £100
  • Small businesses (50 employees or fewer and turnover under £10 million), 30% of any costs up to £100
  • Medium businesses (250 employees or fewer and turnover under £50 million), 50% of any costs up to £100
  • Large businesses (251 or more employees and turnover of £50 million or more), 100% of any costs up to £100

The campaign recommends that for candidates travelling from outside the UK, it should be up to the employer’s discretion to cover more than £100. It suggests employers agree this beforehand on a case-by-case basis.

Employers that already offer to reimburse all or a percentage of a candidate’s travel costs include Siemens, E.ON and Capgemini.

Stephen Isherwood, CEO of the Institute of Student Employers, said that while not enough employers currently offer reimbursement, another issue is communication of this offer.

“Some employers do offer reimbursement, but fail to communicate this fact publicly before the application stage,” he said. “This could deter students who can’t afford the travel.

“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 will clear that up.”

Charlie Taylor, founder and CEO of Debut, said that this wasn’t just an issue affecting young jobseekers. “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,” he said.