The current outrage about Tesco’​s involvement in the DWPs work experience programme for claimants on jobseeker’​s allowance (JSA) does not bode well for the government’​s recent proposal to make claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA) undertake compulsory unlimited work experience –​ see previous story.

The government may have difficulty finding employers to take part in such a scheme. The Guardian reports that Sainsbury’​s, Waterstones, and TK Maxx have withdrawn from the mandatory work scheme for jobseekers and understands that other organisations are also reconsidering their position.

Jobseekers are required to undertake unpaid work for up to 8 weeks and for 30 hours per week and can face benefit sanctions for refusal to co-operate. The government is proposing disabled people undertake indefinite and unlimited compulsory unpaid work experience, and would also face a sanction to their benefit for refusal to take part.

Commenting on the mandatory work programme for jobseekers, the Guardian reports Sainsbury’​s as only being willing to take part in a voluntary scheme and that Sainsbury’​s would provide experience for benefit claimants in relation to actual job vacancies. Tesco has now asked the DWP to make the work experience programme voluntary, but has failed to confirm how it would proceed if the DWP refuses to do this.

Public Interest Lawyers who are bringing a legal claim under the Human Rights Act against the DWP for forced labour welcome Tesco’​s move.

The full Guardian report can be found here

The Guardian has additional reports on Tesco’​s here and also here


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