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Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.

Avoid forced unpaid labour

Posted: December 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Info on schemes | Tags: | 14 Comments »

Download a leaflet to help let people know their rights!

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!

To see this information in the DWP’s own words, click here and here.

Check out this video which sets out some of your rights on the Work Programme.


14 Comments on “Avoid forced unpaid labour”

  1. 1 Unemployment: A Response to the Sunday Times. « Ipswich Unemployed Action. said at 11:59 am on January 9th, 2012:

    […] Workfare Avoid forced unpaid labour1. Don’t volunteer for “Work experience”! Once you volunteer for job centre ‘work […]

  2. 2 WORKFARE IS AN ATTACK ON US ALL! « Brighton Benefits Campaign said at 11:54 pm on January 10th, 2012:

    […] Know your rights!  If you’re unemployed, there are a number of workfare schemes, which have different rules and some of which you may not have to comply with. There are details about your rights at  http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?p=280. […]

  3. 3 Mandatory Work Activity Provider Guidance | www.consent.me.uk said at 10:23 am on January 27th, 2012:

    […] How to avoid Mandatory Work Activity and Work Experience: http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?p=280 […]

  4. 4 Big Al said at 11:53 am on February 22nd, 2012:

    Cheers, will give this a bash 2moro 😛

  5. 5 Callum said at 4:10 pm on February 22nd, 2012:

    Sorry to bother you guys, but does someone have a link for no.2, because i have a feeling i’m going to need it on friday

    Thanks

  6. 6 Stephen Kay said at 11:16 am on February 24th, 2012:

    Good, solid and practical advice for those not prepared to take Workfare lying down. We need more such information.

    Forewarned is forearmed.

    Above all else, ORGANIZE yourselves into CLAIMANTS UNIONS or similar! Don’t sit at home frightenend and humilated but find others in a similar boat and you’ll achieve so much more than if are having to face this alone.

  7. 7 ‘Voluntary’ Work Experience start letter: destitution and state imposed forced child labour | Consent and Welfare to Work(fare) Programmes said at 12:42 pm on February 25th, 2012:

    […] released on 23 February 2012 does not even mention that a ‘Work Experience’ placement can be left without threat of sanction, after attending the first day of any, typically 8 week 30 hours per week,  forced unpaid work […]

  8. 8 Boycott Workfare National Day of Action 3rd March | Edinburgh Anarchist Federation said at 12:02 am on February 29th, 2012:

    […] If you are unemployed, find out about your rights under the various workfare schemes http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?p=280. […]

  9. 9 Parliament - Shame on you said at 11:29 am on June 7th, 2012:

    Please add ESG to your list of providers – they are 3rd party who contract ‘Manpower’ to do their interviews…. Also, I have been on the work programme since Jan 2012, I didnt sign data forms and because of this, they cant help me to find work because all of their contracts ARE NOT advertised jobs and they told me that the contracts they hold do not allow joe public to contact them direct, what is the point??? Someone told me that because I didnt sign data consent I dont even need to attend the fortnightly meetings, I will ask about that and voice record the response.

  10. 10 mhairi mcalpine said at 6:57 pm on June 26th, 2012:

    How can you find out who is the workfare provider in your area and which companies they are working with?

  11. 11 admin said at 9:43 pm on June 26th, 2012:

    This document is useful: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wp-prime-supplier-contact-details.pdf

    There might also be others for e.g. Community Action Programme / Mandatory Work Activity in your area as well.

    Finding out who takes placements….

    Try a Freedom of Information request: http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?p=207

    Or a bit of sleuthing: http://bworkfare.mayfirst.org/?p=1017

    Good luck and let us know what you find out!

  12. 12 Mike said at 2:50 pm on July 6th, 2012:

    YOU SHOULD ALSO KNOW DWP ARE HASTLING DISABLED PEOPLE TO SEE WORK ADVISERS WHEN LIKE ME THEY CAN’T GET THERE AND ARE CONTESTING
    A LUDICROUS DECISION TO BUT ME IN THE WORK RELATED ACTIVITY GROUPDESPITE HAVING MIDDLE RATE CARE PACKAGE. RATHER THAN THE SUPPORT GROUP
    THEN THEY ARE LEAVING DISABLED PEOPLE IN LIMBO FOR MONTHS WHILE THEY ARRIVE AT A (NOT NECESSARILY CORRECT DECISIONit’s time the tuc or a charity backed a case against dwp for deformation/libelAs when they make the wrong decision one has to assume they think the claimant lied!

  13. 13 Dame Kitty Carryall said at 12:44 am on July 20th, 2012:

    Further to the “forewarned is forearmed” arsenal, work “providers” will counter challenge your redacted CV by inferring that by not supplying a “full” CV you are scuppering an opportunity to actively seek work. This is their “justification” for attempting to initiate a sanction. They will attempt to relentlessly wear you down with this.

    In order to shut them up in the short term, you can attempt to “give in” and provide a full CV but if you sign ONLY the agreement for the job search and NOTHING else, you can retroactively have them over a barrel. In other words, as long as you don’t sign the data protection waiver form, you can turn around at the end of your time on the work programme and draft a letter stating that all their attempts at contacting potential employers are null and void as you never signed that waiver allowing them to contact third parties.

    To FURTHER get your own back at them, once you are officially off the work programme, under the Data Protection Act, you are legally entitled and they are legally obligated to provide you with all the paperwork and documentation they amassed while dealing with you. If I’m not mistaken, I believe in order to facilitate the request you have to fork over something in the region of £10, GOOGLE “Data Protection Act 1998″ for the full details. Ultimately, a tenner is small change if enough people decide to persue this – and what’s ten quid in the great scheme of things if it will help to clog the machinations of the notoriously exploitative Work Programme?

  14. 14 Mark Johnson said at 1:49 pm on November 23rd, 2014:

    I signed the letter, I have the first interview with A4E on Tuesday, so am I to understand that I attend this interview and just refuse to sign anything and this workfare will go away? If I take a voluntary job for 1 month and then return to signing on again will I be exempt from further MWA appointments? I have read that if I sign off the day before my interview and then back on again the day after there is nothing the DWP can do about it, is this correct? what would you advise my course of action to be?


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