One Quarter of Holland & Barrett Staff Could Soon Be Workfare Slaves

With the Guardian today reporting that young people who refuse the Work Experience scheme face workfare under a different scheme, it appears that Chris Grayling plans to carry on regardless with forced labour.  It seems he once again lied through his teeth, this time to major employers and charities, when he said that Work Experience is now entirely voluntary.

One company set to benefit are snake oil salesmen Holland & Barrett who could soon have an unpaid labour force representing almost a quarter of their workers.

According to the programme for Chris Grayling’s upcoming workfare conference (PDF), where the company will be hosting a seminar, ‘Holland and Barrett have committed to supporting one thousand young people over the next twelve months’ by delivering ‘placements and support’ in partnership with Jobcentre Plus.

Whether these people will be supported by being forced to work for free for two months under the Government’s Work Experience Scheme, or ‘helped’ by being mandated to six month workfare placements on the Work Programme, is unclear.  What is for sure is that unpaid staff are set to make up a huge percentage of the company’s total workforce which was last year estimated to be 3,586 people strong.

No company would undertake such a huge scheme unless it had been deemed highly profitable to do so.  Especially not Holland & Barrett.

The company’s hippy ethos is as fake as the pretend medicines they sell.  Holland & Barrett are owned by the notorious Carlyle Group, an arms dealing bunch of private equity bastards who have included such war mongering scum as George Bush Snr and former US Secretary of State James Baker as their former employees.  The Carlyle Group also own a significant chunk of tax dodging bastards Boots, who take a rather different approach to health care than hippy dippy Holland & Barrett.  If you back both sides you can’t lose as the Carlyle Group know only too well, having also had the bin Laden family on their books in the past.

Despite being the target of several protests Holland & Barrett have remained quiet on their use of forced labour.  They are somewhat shy of the internet as well, with no facebook page or active twitter feed.  It’s almost as if they’ve something to be ashamed of.  They can be contacted via their website at:

Alternatively why not pay them a visit and ask about their role as one of the UK’s biggest workfare exploiters.

Above pic taken from :

Join the protest outside the workfare conference!

31 responses to “One Quarter of Holland & Barrett Staff Could Soon Be Workfare Slaves


  2. Cant vouch for this, but i heard holland and barrett make all their money off the muscle building protein shakes – the rest of the shop is window dressing really. There’s really no money to be made in a few soy sausages and some vitamins. <an aside really.

  3. Having done some good work criticising A4E and the work programme in general, Left Foot Forward has hone to the dark side…

    A full-time unpaid internship!

  4. Thanks for the info, I researched the Carlyle Group some years ago but did not realise they owned Holland and Barrett, or were financially into Boots, is there anywhere we can shop? As every time I e-mail or call a company to protest their involvement in workfare and avoid them another 20 pop up.


    I got a leftfoot forward e-mail this morning and noticed the same!

    • Yes, you can shop with us! Depending where you live, of course, or whether what you want is on our website. We are an independent health store and we have owned it for 25 years. Our manager is 28 years old, full time and if he does any hours over those that he is paid for, then we pay him extra. We have two 21 year old girls, both full time and both paid well over the minimum wage. We also have a part–timer who has been with us for nearly 20 years. All the full timers work 5 days a week and the manager only has to do 6 days when my husband and I go on holiday but he then gets an extra day off the following week. We never have less than 3 workers in the shop at any one time and it is normally 4.

      Everything that Holland & Barrett sells is available in independent health shops (except for their cheap rubbish own label vitamins etc. but then you will find quality British companies’ products there instead). If all independents work as hard as we do, they deserve your support and I suggest you have a look around your area and see what you can find. Unfortunately, some have closed down due to the recession.

  5. There’s some ‘Point of Sale’ marketing material here if anyone fancies paying a visit to their local branch ;-)…

  6. Pingback: Boycott Holland & Barrett – Support Your Local Independent Witch Doctor! | the void

  7. the carlyle group bought nbty last year which owned holland and barrett, they also treat their staff very badly as well, up until last month I worked for them as a store manager, never had enough staff to serve all the people coming into the shop, I was told I had a bad attitude I even went into work on my day off leaving my house at 5.30am and worked 7.45am-4.30pm not getting home until 8.30pm only to be told I obviously cant do my job if im working on my day off. with all these unpaid staff it means they can treat their current staff like dirt knowing there are people to replace them.

  8. Yes, I think it should be made more aware of how badly Holland and Barrett treat their staff. I used to work for them about a year ago, still talk with my old co-workers. The amount of stories I hear of people getting disciplinaries for the most trivial of reasons ie, having to shut the shop early because they were the only people working and they had a hospital appointment to go to, or not getting the promotion out quick enough because again, they were lone working. The list is endless. They have forgotten how important their shop staff are, and are more concerned about how much money they can get in their greedy little pockets. And now this? It just pisses on every single employee they have hired, because of the amount of training we had to do to gain knowledge of all the products. It concerns me that no member of staff is going to care to know what they’re actually advising customers about. This workfare scheme will fuck up their shops by destroying any kind of morale their current employees might have left.

    • I left in feb this year, I had disciplinaries for having gaps on shelves, for 4 days out of 7 we had just two staff working, even though we had around 3,500 customers coming through our doors and around 2000+ going through our till.
      The store was very cold we had to keep the doors open but if we turned the heating up it was another disciplinary, I had a disciplinary for taking a lieu day on xmas week, my head was all over the place my father had just beed diagnosed with cancer and had done 6 days out of 7 the previous week, so I had travelled 720 miles that week just to get to and from work. If i’d had a bad attendance record I might’ve understood but in 6 years I have never missed a day, glad I left.
      You would think they would be more grateful especially as the sales have increased by 6,500 per week in the four years I was at my last shop.

  9. the direct aproach is good but you need to be a bit zig zaggy as well. Remember slavery was abolished by laws that affected the slave traders means of transport and existing laws on false imprisonment and not simply by making it illegal. do a bit more digging into old and existing laws on labour.

  10. Pingback: Holland & Barrett Face Angry Pickets Across the UK | the void

  11. Some of these work experience people do end up being employed by Holland and Barrett. It has a lot to do with their appearance and attitude but sometimes there just isn’t a job available at that particular moment. At least they get work experience and something to put on their CVs. I’m totally against the job centre FORCING them to do it though, it has to come from them. Also H&B should ensure the person is allowed to get experience in how to use a till and the basics for working in a shop.

    I know somebody who is a manager in a H&B and she says its time consuming to show the work experience people the ropes, she has to repeat very simple instructions over and over again, even as simple as to not push products to the back of the shelves but to display them up front of the shelf. She has recommeded some workers but her superior boss vetoed it because they ‘didn’t like the look of them’.

    Other times, after she has gone out of her way to train them, because it’s true they are generally understaffed, which has taken time out of her own work (she ends up doing EVERYTHING) they suddenly just don’t turn up anymore, which PROVES they were totally unreliable and not worthy of even getting a job. Obviously, they don’t get a reference if they don’t complete their work experience, but if they do they get a good reference.

    The reason I say that she ends up doing EVERYTHING is because she says that as soon as employees have become permanent, they become really lazy and can’t be bothered to do things properly, so she has to go and FIX what they did wrong, or go and do what they couldn’t be botherd doing.

    If it were for her, she would employ some of these work experience people, irrespective of their look or their chavvy accents, but it’s not always up to her.

  12. I used to work for this horrible company they treat you like scum! The management is often poor and they do not pay you for genuine hours you work before the shop opens and after their shop closes which are vital if the company wants their hundreds of bits of paperwork done in a day as well as being worked as a dog to be paid less than tesco workers funny really. We used to get tonnes of training updates which are wads of paperwork that were supposed to train on while serving customers! Supposed to pick up the phone within 5 rings even when your working on your own and have customers nagging for help otherwise they ring you up to moan. Supposed to make a huge amount of profit target every week or you get abuse from your area manager. Get your hours cut so they can employ more staff even when you’ve prepared yourself for full time work and requested more hours. Top it all off 60% of the staff know nothing about the supplements as the genuine staff members who do know wonders about the products quit because they have been treated the worse! Infuriating company DO NOT GIVE THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO DESTROY YOUR LIFE BY WORKING THERE!!!

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  21. Utter rubbish. Holland and barrett currently have just 50 work exp in there store and most large stores have between 6 and 10 staff so go back to the calculator and work your figures out again.
    And as for them not having a choice. We had to sit them down last week and give them the option of staying and they were happy to stay.

    Im fed up of people butting there noses in. If the work exp wasnt happy it should be them that speak out not some people that have nothing better to do than complain

  22. hahaaaaa is that Baz Vickers the ex director JOKE!!!!

  23. Might actually be Barry Holland! What a scumbag piece of shit.

  24. CorporateControl

    @Baz, go back to the calculator? You should go back to primary school and learn spelling. It’s ‘their’ by the way.

  25. I work there currently, I have found it a great place to work; I am trained, and always offered more if i want it which I usually do, my manager is lovely and when I work in other stores she phones to make sure I am doing ok there. I am regularly offered extra hours at other stores and I am paid expenses for travel to get there. My area manager is nice, and the targets our store is given are reasonable and mostly met. Really don’t have a bad word to say about them.

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  28. they’ve just opened a skanky h&b and paddy power in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in birmingham, handsworth to be exact soho road. i did’nt know that this outfit are a bunch of exploiting gang masters, i did go in to look at the products, overpriced in my opinion. i’ll be there in the morning asking some awkward questions and i’ll make it my duty to prevent these cheeky bastards from making a profit, i’ll highlight what i’ve read in your article and we will see how much money they’ll extract out of us poor people from handsworth, plus i’ll try to find an independent to recomend to their customers.

  29. It’s difficult to find well-informed people on this subject, but you seem
    like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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