Note: As a result of our campaign ‘sanctions’ for leaving unpaid work placements on the Work Programme, Work Experience, and Sector-based Work Academies have been temporarily suspended. We understand that people are often still given the impression that leaving the schemes risks benefit sanction, so it may be useful to print a copy of the DWP response if you are trying to challenge a referral.
1. Don’t volunteer for “Work experience”!
Once you volunteer for job centre ‘work experience’ it becomes mandatory. Then if you stop doing this work experience, your benefits can be stopped. Although the government appears to have made some concessions regarding the Work Experience scheme, there are still sanctions – both direct and indirect – that you may face. The government has not made clear how its concessions will play out – so the best thing to do is try to avoid the Work Experience scheme. The CAB is still advising people that it is a compulsory scheme.
Make sure this doesn’t happen to you:
- Do not agree to volunteer for the job centre’s “work experience”: It quickly becomes forced unpaid labour.
- If you want to do work experience, find something that is really voluntary.
- If you are sent on the scheme, you must turn up on the first day- but you do not face sanctions if you leave within the first week (unless this is due to misconduct).
2. Avoid Mandatory Work Activity!
We have seen people referred for ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ simply because they have challenged their advisor. But there are strict guidelines for who can be referred. You can use the job centre internal guidance below to challenge referral! You do not have to go on this scheme if:
- you are currently working (paid or voluntary)
- you are undertaking employment related study / training
- you are taking part in or recently completed another “employment measure”
- the reason given is you have a lack of recent work experience
- you are being referred because your advisor thinks you haven’t been meeting your jobseeker’s agreement.
Have a read of this post for more detail on updated MWA guidelines.
3. Also, watch out for the “Work Programme”
Multi-million pound companies like A4E profit from making lives miserable on the Work Programme.
Know your rights! Did you know that the only personal data you need to share with a work programme provider are 1) your referral letter and 2) signing on book?
Fact: You do not need to give them bank details, passport, driving licence or utility bills.
Fact: You do not need to share personal information with them.
Fact: Did you know the Job Centre can postpone starting the Work Programme for 90 days if you have a job interview, or are expecting to work soon?
Fact: You do not have to sign any Work Programme Provider documents or forms. (See reference to not needing signatures here).
Did you know that if you are on another job centre scheme, pregnant or a survivor of domestic violence you do not have to do the Work Programme?
Visit the consent.me.uk website for more info on your rights on the Work Programme.
Workfare is wrong, and it’s up to all of us stop it. Remember, you are not alone. That’s why Boycott Workfare was formed by people like you. So help yourself and get involved!
Check out this video which sets out some of your rights on the Work Programme.