News

It’s not Work Experience: it’s workfare

Barnardo's shop

Barnardo’s helped the government launch its workfare for young people. [Photo: Howard Lake/flickr]

Debenhams tell us that the workfare scheme they are involved in is “purely voluntary and in no way linked to the receipt of benefits”. We hear “Barnardo’s does not take part in mandatory work activity. Our position is that we are against the principle of benefits sanctions, having successfully lobbied the government last year to drop them for young people taking part in the work experience programme.” * One thing needs to be clear: the Work Experience scheme they refer to is not free of sanctions. It is workfare.

Last year after a huge public response to workfare, the government removed some of the sanctions from ‘Work Experience’, which is one of numerous workfare schemes. However, the idea that since then the Work Experience scheme has been purely voluntary is at best wrong, and perhaps deliberately misleading.

Bullying and pressure from the Job Centre often coerces us into supposedly “voluntary” actions. We are rarely told that we have a right to choose whether to attend. Now that sanctions can escalate to three years, getting it wrong is not a risk many of us can afford to take.

Soon after the changes last year, the Guardian exposed that people who refused Work Experience were being sent on Mandatory Work Activity for standing up for their rights. Work Experience is only “voluntary” until you refuse.

Since the start of this year, the government has now explicitly stated this contradiction in their guidance:

“Where a claimant is unwilling to address a lack of recent work experience … they [Advisory Teams] should consider if a referral to MWA is appropriate for the individual claimant.”

It is no longer possible to pretend people are freely volunteering to do workfare. Refusal to take part in these “voluntary schemes” can now officially result in 4 weeks’ workfare with, at minimum, a 3 month sanction if we refuse or drop out. Tesco’s, Debenhams, British Heart Foundation, Poundland and the rest can no longer try and deny they are involved in workfare.

* In fact we have had multiple reports of Mandatory Work Activity placements in Barnardo’s stores since that date, and they were clearly heavily involved before as well. Furthermore, Barnardo’s helped flag-wave for workfare when they supported Chris Grayling to relaunch the Youth Contract (most of which is workfare) last April.

Comments

Comments (19)

Leave a Reply

tony

SUE THE ARSE'S OF THEM.

Breaches of Regs 29 and 35 of the ESA regulations 2008 stating that risk to appellant and public must be assessed and taken into account of the risk of exacerbating or inflicting their conditions to deteriorate. This is law made by the Goverment,yet it appears the laws everyone else has to adhere to can be ignored by those who are unable to understand our English language who govern us.

If anyone,has a fall, accident anything, during travelling to WRAG ,ATOS medical or job interview arranged by DWP and you hurt yourself or members of public, find a no blame no claim solicitor and sue the shit out of them,you wouldn'tt of been there if they hadn't forced you to attend.This includes mental health related issues, ie, causing disturbance in a public arena, ie police being called out to you in a job center, this is evidence of breaches Regs 29b as you would not of attended had they not forced you there

J

Do you have info on any Barnardos stores that are still taking MWA placements?

Jeff

Barnardo's is a charity which has its investment funds held by an equities fund that does not invest in tobacco and the arms industry. This is an ethical. Using forced unpaid labour is certainly not ethical. Also, Barnardo's refusal to acknowledge that some claimants working for them for free have been threatened with the loss of their benefits is a deeply sinister manifestation of willful blindness.

Texmex2004

So they're trying to say if a Jobseeker has a lack of recent work experience then they can be put on mandatory work activity or MWA. So then why the hell are people who are already doing voluntary work of their choice in their own work field being force to give that up in order to stack bloody shelves??????

Tony

Are theses company's boss's brain dead so they think people are not forced well if that the case ask them why the slave workers just don't walk out and why as there been a sharp number of people working for them when before the workfare came along there was very few people offering to work from them. They now it workfare.

fuckthetories

Workfar[c]e is a punitive measure. Forced labour in a Tory utopian wet dream

Alex Talbot

IDS attending conference on Tuesday:The Recovery Festival 2013
Tuesday 12th Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London. Probably arrive between 10:15 - 10:45 if anyone wants to say hello to him.

Jj

Maybe it's time that employers and their 'volunteers' started entering into personal contracts.

Everybody who goes to a particular employer should draw up a simple disclaimer that details that the work is not mandatory and there is no obligation to attend and that any financial losses incurred by the 'trainee' will be met by the employer.

I don't think that is unreasonable if the employer wants to play dumb about the 'voluntary' nature of what they're taking part in.

I think it's really worth considering if you are going to be doing this sort of thing.

Gill

It is not just the mandatory nature of these schemes which is wrong. These placements are replacing real jobs for which people should be paid and they are only possible because of the engineered high level of unemployment. Work should be paid for. End of. Genuine volunteering for a good cause is a completely different matter. This follows on from the exponential growth of graduate intern ships, many of them unlawful under minimum wage legislation which graduates are effectively forced into to try and get any toehole on the careers ladder.

chelle

Toys r us dundee were involved in this in 2005 mandatory 39 week work placement exploiting the young and unemployed sometimes we went without lunch breaks and had to be in on bank holidays all for our jsa

leedsjon1

1 of most disturbing things to come out of this whole insane policy (workfare) is way in which several well known charities, supposedly built on principle of helping vulnerable people, seem quite happy to participate in schemes which exploit this vulnerability. This makes you wonder just what kind of people are running these charities these days and whether they subscribe to principles fought for by their founders have simple become new corporate businesses.

Birmingham Trades Council » Superdrug out – let’s make it more! Day 4 of the Workfare Week of Action

[...] Note: Retailers like to claim these schemes are voluntary. Read more about why they’re not. [...]

Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » Combatting The Lies – Day 7 Of The Workfare Week Of Action

[...] As for their claim that some ‘work experience’ schemes are not workfare, we’ve busted that myth here. [...]

martin

some info for all on workfare schemes= if your able bodied and end up on one of these schemes DWP pay that company £400 for taking you on, when the company places you with another company(work placement) they get a further £1,200 and if you stay there for up to 6months they get a further £5000 total=£6,600. But if your disabled they get £600 when your refered by jobcentre+ if then they place you with another company (voluntery work) they get paid a further £3,500, and if your there in that voluntery work for 3 months they get a further £9,600. total paid by DWP=£13,100.
this is why these companys are so quick to take people on for nothing= slave labour..think how many full time employed people have lost their jobs becouse they can save money(and make money) by taking on jobcentre + referals… makes me sick. I even brought this up with my MP and he told me ‘It doesn’t work that way, they only get paid if people have been in sustainable employment for 2 years, i never ask a question unless i know the answer, My MP is either stupid or belives the rubbish that his party keeps shoving into the media etc…….

Birmingham Trades Council » Combatting The Lies – Day 7 Of The Workfare Week Of Action

[...] As for their claim that some ‘work experience’ schemes are not workfare, we’ve busted that myth here. [...]

Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » “Would 750 hours with no payroll costs benefit YOUR store?” 

[...] workfare workers have all been told “work for free or lose your benefits”. As Boycott Workfare have exposed, even on paper the Work Experience scheme is only voluntary if you say ‘yes’, since it [...]

Birmingham Trades Council » “Would 750 hours with no payroll costs benefit YOUR store?” 

[...] workfare workers have all been told “work for free or lose your benefits”. As Boycott Workfare have exposed, even on paper the Work Experience scheme is only voluntary if you say ‘yes’, since it [...]

Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » Traineeships: the re-branding and lengthening of a workfare scheme

[...] of Works and Pensions make no mention of the compulsory or otherwise nature of the scheme. But seeing as the work experience scheme is just workfare with added spin, with people still being bullied onto the scheme with little knowledge of their right to refuse, or [...]

Birmingham Trades Council » Traineeships: re-branding, privatising and lengthening a workfare scheme

[...] of Works and Pensions make no mention of the compulsory or otherwise nature of the scheme. But seeing as the work experience scheme is just workfare with added spin, with people still being bullied onto the scheme with little knowledge of their right to refuse, or [...]