The Workfare scheme organised by the government allows young people who have been unemployed for a period longer than three months to take an unpaid placement for a month while they continue to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance.
Tesco have recently been criticised for abusing the scheme by asking for people to come and work in their store in exchange for travel expenses only. They would be able to keep claiming jobseekers allowance but they would not receive a salary from Tesco.
Critics and human rights activists have stated that this is Tesco essentially using a form of slave labour. Various human rights groups have threatened to take legal action against any company utilising the Workfare scheme.
An enormous amount of criticism has come against the government for launching the scheme and much of this has come from Twitter. A significant campaign has been launched and it has meant that many retailers have turned their back on the scheme for fear of retribution.
Some of the companies to back out of the scheme include Sainsbury’s, Maplins, Superdrug, Waterstones and Mind. Tesco have changed their position on the scheme and have stated that they are going to start paying young people on work experience with the company.
A leading entrepreneur in the UK, Gary David Smith, who is the co-founder of an IT solutions company has stated, “This is something that could work with SMEs as small companies are a better place for people to get work experience. Working in a small business environment means that the person on work experience is more likely to be able to speak with the person in charge.
“When the Workfare scheme is applied to small and medium-sized companies, it is not so simple as ‘free labour.’ The person on work experience is going to be able to complete more than one function and takeaway valuable lessons.
“Furthermore it allows a company to get a feel for the employee and lets them consider whether this person is someone they want to take on long-term. This is what the scheme is about, it can allow companies to conduct an extended and worthwhile job interview”.