Back-to-work scheme is legal
Published on 17th August 2012 by William Guy
The Government’s back-to-work scheme, which requires benefits claimants to take on a job without pay, is legal, the High Court has found.
Cait Reilly, an unemployed graduate who undertook employment for free in Poundland stacking shelves, had challenged the initiative claiming that it breached her human rights.
Individuals have to undertake work experience without remuneration or risk losing their Jobseeker’s Allowance. The 23-year-old raised the case along with Jamieson Wilson, who also challenged the legality of another Government work scheme.
Despite the claims, both cases were dismissed by Mr Justice Foskett, who rejected the argument that the programmes were a form of slavery.
“Characterising such a scheme as involving or being analogous to “slavery” or “forced labour” seems to me to be a long way from contemporary thinking,” he said.
The Department for Work and Pensions, which runs the initative, has welcomed the decision.
Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary, commented: “Comparing our initiatives to slave labour is not only ridiculous but insulting to people around the world facing real oppression.”
He emphasised that the initiative is designed to give young people the opportunity to gain the skills and experience needed to enter the workplace.