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UK Court bans slave labour for unemployed

By Chris Dawson February 12, 2013 - 2:07 pm

We don’t get too involved in unemployment on Tamebay, our attitude is pretty much that if you don’t have a job then there’s money to be made being self employed. However there’s an interesting case where the courts agreed the regulations behind most of the governments back-to-work schemes were unlawful.

Ball and ChainBasically the case was bought by a lady who was forced to work for free in Poundland if she didn’t want to lose her benefits. She has no problem working in Poundland and in fact is currently working in another supermarket. The problem is that she was forced to work for free.

I’m not sure of the law, but I was under the impression that there was a minimum wage in the UK of £6.19 per hour. That’s probably works out more than Job Seekers allowance, but regardless if you’re working why shouldn’t the company benefiting be paying? That’s especially true if you’re to be forced to work unrelated to your normal profession and unlikely to help you return to full time paid employment (and to be frank I don’t think anyone needs much training to stack shelves and mop floors, no reason not to be paid for this type of work from day one).

I have no sympathy for the work shy who simply won’t work. I can’t help feeling though if someone is working, especially for a company out to make profits, that they shouldn’t be receiving unemployment benefit – there benefits should be suspended and the company should be paying the worker a proper wage for the period of the work experience.

What do you think? Should the unemployed be forced to work for free, or if they were getting work experience in your business would you be willing to pay them a wage?

  • fusion
    4 years ago

    Maybe the scheme should be that poundland (or the chosen company) would have to top up the benefits to make the amount worked minimum wage? or they pay the person the minimum wage and the government pays the company the benefit payment?

    • 4 years ago

      Would definitely make it more palatable and also fairer for every other retailer who are actually paying their staff instead of relying on free labour!

    • Mark
      4 years ago

      Either of those options would give Poundland staff for less than the minimum wage.

      By making use of “free” labour Poundland will avoid hiring paid staff, increasing the unemployment rate.

    • fusion
      4 years ago

      True, although I thought the idea was to give the person work experience. So after the work experience time, if poundland would want to keep them, they could employ them fully. Granted they could just keep using this method for cheaper staff but the idea is to give people who are out of work some experience/something to put on a CV. Also I would assume they are taking the risk of someone they haven’t interview for the position?

    • Mark
      4 years ago

      A lot of companies employ staff on probationary contracts, with set break points. At these points the company can decide not to renew the staff members contract.

      Poundland could have employed staff on probationary contracts (paid at minimum wage) and kept those that were good workers.

      This would avoid accusations of them using forced labour, and let them interview and choose staff who want to work for them.

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    Prices on ebay will have to rise then. The business model for the Jabba the Hutt type sellers has just been ionised.

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    “and to be frank I don’t think anyone needs much training to stack shelves and mop floors”

    Having done both the level of training required may come as a bit of a surprise! Think of the health and safety mafia for one. And then you have got trading standards mafia, the food standards agency and so on. All provide hoops for those doing the above jobs. If you thought the hoops that ebay invent are bad then think again! The manual required to do the job requires a degree which is why graduates are employed these days!

    • Mark
      4 years ago

      If a high level of training was required then surely Poundland would want to keep staff turnover down. If they get a new batch of (probably unwilling) staff every 2/4 weeks they would have to carry out the training many times.

      A lot of companies will have in-house training, this will not be transferable. If the Poundland work program staff obtained a similar (paid) position with another company they would have to repeat the training.

  • puddleglums rest
    4 years ago

    GARY you are so Right,
    anyone trying to run a high st business never mind employ someone, needs therapy,
    no t wonder there are so many unemployed those that employ are hobbled with rules and regulations,
    so much so, that most high streets are now only Charity shop retail centres[charity shops bypass and avoid just about every rule regulation and tax]

  • Emma
    4 years ago

    Hi there, as someone who has had staff in my shop (I am a manager of a national charity shop) from this “New Deal” scheme I can confirm that these “jobs” are a waste of time.

    The people sent to us from these third party providers, truthfully learn nothing as they don’t want to be there and they have no interest in working in retail.

    In general they fall into two groups, those who are so useless I wouldn’t trust to do anything and those who are more highly skilled and educated than me, just in a totally different area.

    Not a single person we have had (over 40 in the last 18 months) has gone on to find work.

    I have no idea why my area manager thought it would be a good idea to agree to take these people on, they cause more work than they do!

    • 4 years ago

      Your Area Manager had been “Sold” the Scheme by some bureaucrat. It was no doubt “Socially Responsible” and it was possible that there was some Financial Benefits to the Charity that you work for.

      But remember Government Agencies have a long history of “Training Schemes” for the Unemployed. They have trained unemployed with “x” skills to do “y” jobs while at the same time training those unemployed with “y” skills to do “x” jobs. Then after a few months further unemployed the Agency will train them all to be “z” skilled even though there are no jobs around for “x”, “y” or “z” skilled people but it looks good on the statistics.

      Remember the original young lady working for Poundland. Apparently she was already happily working for a Charity. But this was not good enough so she had to work for Poundland(where she did not want to be). Isn’t there a saying about Volunteers being worth so many pressed men?

      No doubt the Government Agency was also sending the Charity where the young lady wanted to be pressed men(who like those you had in your shop were totally useless) rather than leaving her to work out her time doing what she wanted to be. Basically a typically totally useless Government Scheme costing many millions of pounds and achieving exactly nothing.

    • JD
      4 years ago

      Government parties have just one aim. To get re-elected.

      Two reasons for any policy will be:

      1) To get re-elected (voters really want to know that they are tackling the issue – perceived in this case to be unemployment).

      2) To get re-elected (voters really want to know that they are saving tax-payers money – perceived in this case to be paying nobody very much).

    • 4 years ago

      Probably more likely the bureaucrats trying to hit their targets by any means possible. However if you are right and it is the present Government rather than the bureaucrats may I put into the conversation a quote. I was originally told this quote by Lord Foot and its about his Father Isaac Foot. His father was a Cornish Liberal M.P. during the inter War years. His favourite quote was “The Conservative Party is the personification of evil on Earth”.

      I was about 18 years old when Lord Foot told me this. I am now 62 years old. In the 44 years since being told it I have never seen anything that has caused me to question that quotes accuracy.

  • Darren
    4 years ago

    Every ‘young person’ of British origin I have had in my business has turned up late, not turned up at all, stole stock and equipment from me.

    I would rather run the wrong way up the M25 in rush hour than employ these waste of spaces the school system chucks out. They watch TV shows such as X-Factor and think they all all going to be pop stars or celebrities.

    People criticise migrants, but the one person I did have (Eastern European) was efficient, trustworthy and turned up on time. He unfortunately had to return home to look after his father….gutted I was.

    Also a good trick is check out their facebook pages before interview – always enlightening and gives you info about how they really act. Pissed up on a sat and sun is the norm – then wait for the excuses on mon am!

  • Kyle
    4 years ago

    She was perfectly free to get off the dole and find another paying job if she didnt want to work in Poundland. Noone put a gun to her head and forced her.

    Frankly if you accept tax payers money from the government, you should be willing to do what the government tells you. Dont like what they tell you? Dont take their money.

    • Jimbo
      4 years ago

      It’s not their money it is our money. I don’t want to subsidize staff for poundland.

    • 4 years ago

      Thats just it she did have a gun put to her head and she was told that if she did not work for Poundland she would lose her benefits. Part of the scheme is that those on benefits should not be able to sit at home all day watching TV. They should be at least doing something for their benefits.

      But she was doing something for her benefits. She was working for a Charity. OK maybe the petty bureaucrats would not have been able to claim her as one of their success stories had she been allowed to continue at the Charity but the Government would have made a significant saving in Legal Fees if nothing else.

      OK maybe there is the need for some sort of scheme but I am not convinced that the present Government Scheme is it. I would point to the reactions nationally that many agree with me. Its a typical Tory Government shambles.

    • 4 years ago

      It really doesn’t matter if it’s a Tory, Labour, Lib Dem or SNP policy… giving companies like Poundland free labour gives them an unfair advantage over other companies.

      If Poundland have an actual job that needs doing then flexible work trials which they pay wages for is what should happen. A break in unemployment benefit which is instantly restarted if the trial ends without a full time position being awarded should be in place.

      Why should the tax payer effectively subsidise Poundland for keeping their floors mopped?

    • Clarky
      4 years ago

      Shouldn’t the government be using these people to do the things it should be doing but isn’t? Clean the streets, fix the potholes, look after the homeless etc?

    • Gary
      4 years ago

      Every major company and employer in the UK has the opportunity to take advantage of this scheme. If companies choose not to accept the government subsidy then they have their reasons and more than likley do not see any advantage to be gained and so pass on the scheme. There is no way that Poundland are gaining an unfair advantage. If they were do you not think more companies would be participating in the scheme? There is absolutely no advantage to be gained.

      What gripes is that folk expect to get £70 a week or whatever for doing absolutely sod all (and working is a charity shop is a “sod all” job in my book)! There has to be a way of forcing those who claim their £70 to contribute to society even if it means plonking them in care homes to look after the elderly or sticking them in hospitals or sending them to Iran. But to do absolutely nothing for their money is not on!

    • 4 years ago

      Gary:

      “plonking them in care homes to look after the elderly or sticking them in hospitals or sending them to Iran.”

      Those are all jobs, quite seriously, that I want the people doing them to be trained and screened.

      I don’t want untrained amateurs looking after old folk: I want sympathetic, qualified, trained and screened care workers and nurses. Likewise in hospitals (doctors and and nurses and support staff should be very well trained professionals). And as for Iran. Go figure, mate.

    • 4 years ago

      “Sending them to Iran”. I cannot work out, unless you are suggesting that the Government should declare War on Iran. Why we would want to send anybody, unless they are Iranians, to Iran. The then Government declared War and Invaded Afghanistan to keep the Americans happy. This War has cost many Billions of Pounds and hundreds of UK Lives and many thousands of UK injured, often maimed. We should not be in Afghanistan. We should certainly not be even thinking about another War in Iran.

      As for the NHS. Years ago Nurses and other care workers were held in very high respect. I am not certain that is as true today. Certainly Stafford Hospital and numerous other similar although perhaps not so large scale scandals have caused us to question the standards in todays NHS.

      However there may be some lower level jobs within the NHS that could be done by the unemployed on government schemes but certainly not Nursing.

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    The Duke of Edinburgh has just remarked to a Philippino nurse that “the Philippines must be half empty” because so many of her compatriots work for the NHS.

    That just about sums up the state of the UK and its unemployment situation. This is a crazy country right now!

    • radroach
      4 years ago

      If I were unfortunate enough to be in hospital, I’d much rather be cared for by a trained Filipino nurse than one of the currently unemployed types dragged in off the dole queue.

    • Gary
      4 years ago

      On the back of the Stafford report can you be certain of that?

    • 4 years ago

      Carry on Gary.

      It’s exactly on the back of what happened in Stafford that we should be more exacting in our standards for all levels of NHS staff now. Your plan to staff the NHS with the unemployed for 70 quid a week won’t raise standards.

      I know a young lady currently training to be a nurse who is working bloody hard and with people from all over the world. It’s not just wiping bums. It’s a serious profession that requires serious people. And quite right.

      My mum was a nurse and midwife for 35 years. She trained hard, was constantly retrained and had to pass solid tests to keep on making the grade. And again, her colleagues came from all over the world.

      I find your comments frankly ignorant and insulting to the many thousands of talented and professional people who keep the NHS running, often on not very glam wages.

      Time to stop reading the Daily Mail.

    • puddleglum
      4 years ago

      every nurse should have their salary doubled instantly ,along with every health worker on lower wages, without your health or some one to fix you, your stuffed ! does not matter who you are or what you do

  • Gary
    4 years ago

    Say what you like but I am fearful going into hospital these days based on the experience of a relative and in my mind any free help that can be offered to nurses can only be a blessing for all. I simply did not like what I witnessed but what can you say? Nurses may know best but they simply have no time. Are you saying that free helpers have no humanity? This is the area where the NHS seems to fail badly. There are a lot of folk out there signing on who could bring their experience of raising a family into any ward.

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