Workfare Must Not Lead to a Job Say Guidelines

The guidelines for Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Work Programme warn that participants mandated to community workfare must not be promised a job on successful completion of the placement.

The Work Programme Provider Guidance (PDF), which was re-written yet again over the Summer, warns that any community placement lasting over 6 weeks and which comes with a job offer at the end will breach the minimum wage laws.

Astonishingly the DWP don’t even seem sure whether other workfare style schemes are legal, potentially leaving workfare exploiting charities exposed to backdated wage claims running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The good news is that the latest guidelines are straight forward – work experience for private companies is voluntary and claimants can leave at any point without the threat of benefit sanctions.  The only exception to this is when participants have been judged to have committed gross misconduct.  It is yet to be seen whether this clause will be misused in practice by exploitative employers and over-zealous welfare to work companies.

The bad news is that those who refuse workfare at private companies can be mandated to a Community Benefit Work Placement.  This can mean Work Programme participants face unlimited forced labour for charities, local authorities or even private companies who claim to offer a ‘community benefit’.

It is these unpaid positions which the DWP warn must not lead to a job, however it is quite possible that the same rules apply to all workfare placements:

“Even if they are not paid by the employer, participants will qualify for the NMW (National Minimum Wage) if they are regarded as employees of the employer AND are participating in a trial period of work with that employer, in which the employer has agreed to offer a job to the participant if they successfully complete the trial, in cases where the trial is in excess of six weeks.”

The DWP warn that: “Employment” has a wide meaning, and participants are likely to be regarded as employees if they agree voluntarily to take up the placement with a particular employer.”

It is clear, workfare must not be voluntary, and must not come with the promise of a job.

Elsewhere the guidance is not so clear.  The DWP warn that: As a general rule, persons participating in a relevant Government Scheme – which includes the Work Programme – designed to provide training, work experience or temporary work, or to assist in seeking or obtaining work, do not qualify for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in respect of work done for an employer as part of that scheme.”

However they also point out: The NMW is very unlikely to apply to participants mandated to participate in unpaid work experience or an unpaid community benefit work placement through the Work Programme, or to Participants who volunteer to take part in an unpaid placement of either type which is not a work trial exceeding 6 weeks.”

Clearly the department is winging it in the hope that any future legal cases don’t rule against them.  Some charities, like the British Heart Foundation, have employed hundreds of unpaid workers on the various workfare schemes and will no doubt be re-assured that it is ‘very unlikely’ they will end up facing a backdated wage bill of over a million pounds.

The Work Programme, established to help long term unemployed people find work is fast becoming a joke.  The DWP themselves don’t seem to know what the ever changing rules are, or even whether the whole racket is legal.  Despite hundreds of millions of pounds being handed over to welfare to work parasites like A4e and G4S, long term unemployment is soaring.

The new minister in charge, Mark Hoban, in his brief appearances yesterday, appeared to think everything is wonderful at the DWP.  Soaring long term unemployment, rising youth unemployment and a pitiful fall in unemployment overall is apparently good news.

It seems that despite the appointment of a new minister, the shambles at the DWP is far from over.  The clown ultimately in charge, Iain Duncan Smith is, as usual, nowhere to be seen whilst bungling ex-Employment Minister Chris Grayling was only too happy to scramble off the sinking ship.  Unfortunately for those trapped on endless workfare or in desperate poverty due to benefit sanctions, there is no such escape from the brutal incompetence which has become the hallmark of the DWP.


15 responses to “Workfare Must Not Lead to a Job Say Guidelines

  1. I was on a programme like this many years ago although it was probably under a different name then. I was placed on a work placement and nearing the end of the placement was surprised when the provider called me in and said that I had been reported by the employer for ‘Bad Behaviour’. Now I can say categorically that these allegations were nonsense and that from what I could tell at the time the employer just wanted to use me for a few months free of charge to them and then get rid once the deadline approached to offer me job. I do not expect that things will have changed much since them and expect others to be treated the same way as I was. These schemes are exploitiation,.. pure and simple – and one reason why I actively campaign against them now – that and how I was treated.

    • This is the problem. there is so much misuse and abuse of system and ability to stick something on you, or even make people work in appalling and illegal and abusive conditions and relationships and the person ends up with no job and no income if they are expendable or the employer wishes to get rid of them, The idea that work works and people who work hard are better off, they are not, They are the most exploited and expendable.

  2. In 1985-6 I was on a similar community-based scheme, the huge difference being that we were paid very much more than unemployment benefit, which reflected the greatly increased expenses we faced – travelling to and from a placement doesn’t come free, nor do acceptable clothes. Jeans and T-shirt are fine at home, but not in the workplace.

    Something the moronic Duncan Smith and his toxic crew clearly don’t care about.

  3. Reblogged this on kickingthecat and commented:
    Not just nasty, but incompetently nasty….

  4. I’ts their way of getting around the minimum wage, which they have always hated. And of course they don’t want it to lead to a job, unemployment is one misguided way of keeping inflation down. And they don’t want full employment because we might all go on strike and demand higher wages. Mass unemployment creates job insecurity and is their way of getting us to accept shitty jobs with shitty wages and shitty working conditions.

  5. Today, from ATOS (the disability denying wing of I.D.Smith’s private and personal fiefdom within Govt., The DWP):
    ” It is with some satisfaction that we can announce today that any disability benefits paid to Stephen Hawking will be removed forthwith after his sterling performance at The Opening Ceremony of The Paralympics where we were a major sponsor. After a thorough assessment of Stephen, we have decided he is fit for work and will have his DLA terminated immediately. As he no longer requires the middle or full-rate DLA, we will also be removing Carer’s Allowance from his primary caregiver.
    These sanctions will also apply to all other British Paralympians and any disabled person seen performing at The Paralympics. These subjects are all currently being assessed by our approved medical personnel, based on recorded evidence from the games.
    As major sponsors of The Paralympics we felt it right to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use the games as a mass screening assessment process. We feel it has been a successful operation for our company, achieved in a superb cost effective module.
    Therefore, we are expecting to roll out this model in the coming months.
    Iain Duncan Smith has given us the green light, subject to approval from Cabinet colleagues.
    With not inconsiderable pride in our methodology, we would like to assure the taxpayers of Great Britain that their hard earned taxes will less and less be handed out to undeserving spongers,wasters, and the dross of society,and instead will be used to handsomely reward our ongoing programme of Eugenics.
    We are immensely satisfied with the role we have played in bringing the most succesful Paralympics to you, our most valuable resource : the people. We hope you will support us in our efforts to streamline society, and that you continue to inform us of anyone you think is getting benefits they do not deserve. We look forward to your continuing support. Without it we could not do as we have done, are doing, and will continue to do so until our aims are reached and a final solution is found to the problems of society which are a drain on our resources and an irritation to us all.
    Thank you.
    As a complimentary bonus we will be sending DVDs of The Who’s ‘Tommy’ to all our clients.
    If a deaf dumb and blind kid can play such a mean pinball, then many of the so-called ‘disabled’ will certainly have to have their aspirations reassessed.
    We hope this is a motivational gift and that you benefit from it ; because it’s the only benefit you are ever likely to receive once we have interviewed you, assessed you, and sanctioned you on a permanent, no appeals ,no quibble basis.

  6. Pingback: Workfare Must Not Lead to a Job Say Guidelines | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues |

  7. I’ve always thought the Achilles heel of the Work Programme was payment, or rather lack of it. In the case of Bernadette Faure v Australian government, their ‘work for your dole’ scheme limited the number of hours to a maximum of 15 hrs per week. In addition an extra $21 a weeks was paid to cover additional costs. That would probably have brought it in line with the minimum wage, making any legal challenge more difficult.

    Details of this important judgement are here:

  8. Anagrams for ‘George Iain Duncan-Smith’ = Cretin, damaging in House or = Is charming? Genuine toad or = Is thundering egomaniac

  9. This really is a disgrace, a government department desperately attempting to get around the NMW in order to allow greedy exploiters to take full advantage of vulnerable people. The abhorrent corruption and cover ups going on and the evidence trail they are leaving will eventually come back to bite the bastards involved in this.

  10. Unfortunately the bottom line is that anyone who tries to argue this case with the DWP will be sanctioned regardless of whether the action being refused is one that carries with it a legitimate penalty. They will do this not for refusal but for the crime of ‘not engaging’ with the help offered, as they see it. Your money will be stopped immediately, even before a DWP decision robot rubber stamps the outcome and certainly before any chance of appeal. All of this will take weeks possibly months during which you will have no income. This is what we need to protest against. I would even say it doesn’t matter what these guidelines say, the DWP will lie and obfuscate their way to getting you sanctioned on the grounds mentioned.

  11. I just completed the first half of my “Training Course”with Tabs,today.6 days of bullshit to qualify for another course to get another bullshit ticket to get a job that isn’t there,(a job which I have done for many years,but am apparently no longer qualified for)The (self proclaimed “Druid”)who is the tutor cheerfully told us he wanted to start
    a business offering Adventure Trekking in Afghanistan.I kid you not.The paper work is truly unbelievable,and the internet courses appear to have been designed by and for pre school children(Go on Learn Direct,and check em out)Weird,weird,and more weird.Yes,and any attempt to talk to them seems to be considered as “abuse”.Strange.

  12. Pingback: 2012: A Year of Lies and Blunders at the DWP Part 2 | the void

  13. Pingback: Is Poundland’s Workfare Scheme Illegal? | the void

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