Is M&S Workfare Scheme Illegal?

marks-spencer-workfareMarks and Spencer’s mealy mouthed response to criticism over their use of mass workfare has prompted the company to furiously deny that the scheme is anything to do with the DWP.

Whilst this piles yet more humiliation on hapless Iain Duncan Smith – who is fast running out of friends – it also appears to be an admission from the company that their workfare scheme is illegal.

As has been repeatedly pointed out this week by @BoycottWorkfare, so called ‘work experience’ programmes are only exempt from the minimum wage laws if they are government backed schemes.

This hasn’t stopped some of the UK’s largest companies flouting the laws with flaky unpaid work experience jobs or internships.  Several of those interns have been successful in claiming money back from the companies who expected them to work for free.  They have had an unlikely ally in the tax office, who even have a special hotline for people to discuss possible breaches of minimum wage laws at:

The Government themselves issue very clear guidance to employers on whether the minimum wage laws should apply.  It is clear from these guidelines that four weeks stacking shelves at Marks and Sparks for no pay is almost certainly illegal.

M&S not only hope to save a cool £1 million in wages due to their use of unpaid workers, but have even been attempting to try and use it as a PR strategy to show how much they care about young unemployed people.  That hasn’t worked out well for the greedy wage thieves who have been bombarded on social media with people outraged at the company’s gross exploitation.

This weekend will see protests against Marks and Spark’s mass workfare in Newcastle, Hackney and Glasgow with further anti-workfare protests in Brighton and Willesden.

Spread the word and make sure they know that if they exploit us, then we will shut them down (and grass them up to the tax office).

For all the latest news on this week’s action against workfare keep an eye on:

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid


38 responses to “Is M&S Workfare Scheme Illegal?

  1. ‘use it as a PR strategy to show how much they care about young unemployed people’

    If M&S cared that much about young unemployed people, they’d employ them the old fashioned way and pay them a wage! How has it come to this that companies expect to get ‘free’ labour in exchange of giving them ‘experience’??
    When I was at school it was customary to get a PAID job at a store for weekends. Amazing that within 10 years these same firms expect the youngsters to work for nothing. Disgusting. I’ll boycott M&S for as long as this practice remains in place. I know their clothing sales are dire but to scab that money back off the backs of youngsters is disgusting!!!

    Keep up the great work Mr. Void!

    • Well…………

      M & S – Not just any workers, These our the unpaid workers
      M & S – Not just Any slaves, These are DWP slaves
      M & S – Not just any shop, we have no morals, we have fairtrade though which makes up for our unfair workfare slaves.

      Your M&S, where slaves will do anything to survive, come inside and spend double what you would at tescos, whilst enjoyoiing our slaves work for nothing, sweating to death in fear of homeless ness. Not just exploitation, This is M&S exploitation.

  2. I think the government should let us know how much they are paying the companies and charities who are using Workfare, which profits the rich by providing free labour, from taxpayers money.

  3. This is not just unpaid labour, this is M&S unpaid labour…

  4. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Off Topic:

    Don’t forget – BBC1 9:00pm Tonight.

    • cheers obiwank

    • Boycott Croydon M&S

      Just turnt that shit off. It’s terrible.

    • Obi – we all pay your benefits – what a load of judgemental shits that are questioning the unemployed, some of those questioning especially the one in the supermarket who was criticizing a mother for buying a chicken, looked like an ex junkie or an anorexic herself, silly cow.
      Another telling a lad he should not take handouts from family to help pay the bills – just who the fuck are these morons interrogating and dictating to others?
      Everyone should boycott part two – whatever the outcome.

      • ps I switched it OFF.

        • Obi Wan Kenobi

          Typical BBC, why didn’t they highlight more single people and the day to day struggle we have with the Jobcentres and Work Programme? why didn’t they highlight the constant pressure we are put under by the Jobcentres/DWP? and why didn’t they expose the DWP’s draconian measure’s that are leading some people to commit suicide?

          But no, they had plug a very biased approach again – BBC = Government Lackey’s, we only show what the government say’s we can show.

          Should have got Channel 4 Dispaches to do the programme instead.

          • Seems like the judgmental little bastards were specifically chosen for their Daily Flail views, false consciousness and lack of the ability to think or analyse without making things horribly personal. I hated this programme- it was patronising, nauseatingly simplistic and divisive. No-one thought of the revolutionary idea that perhaps, just perhaps “government” greedsters links with businesses could be at fault for wages too low to live on and that THIS is the problem, not benefits. This programme was too much to bear.

  5. Ha! M & S is celebrating its 100th birthday this weekend, with all sorts of celebratory fun happening in their stores; I’m sure all the exploited young people forced to staff the celebrations can’t wait. What perfect timing for a protest and a golden opportunity to piss on M&S’s fireworks.

  6. not just any exploitation, this is m&s exploitation 😦

  7. According to this you get NMW for 6 weeks only if on a JCP work trial After that its work for free..or less than NMW

  8. Boycott Croydon M&S

    Marks and Spencer’s have been exploiting the unemployed for years. I knew a woman on the old ‘new deal’ scheme in 2009 that was forced to work for them in thier Croydon store. She ended up working for 6 weeks unpaid only to be told by the manager that there are no jobs going there. To add insult to injury she found out a few weeks after that she should have only been mandated to ‘work’ a maximum of four weeks, not six!

  9. Pingback: Is M&S Workfare Scheme Illegal? | thepositivevoice

  10. I’m loving this M&S interrogation, I have worked for this sorry lot up to and over the Christmas period for the last 2 years, both stores had less than friendly management and middle management staff. Very condescending people who never allowed you to use your initiative in any role undertaken, they are very dismissive of any innovative ideas as though they are scared that they have not thought of it already. It took them 5 weeks to get my pay right and I never got paid extra hours worked in the first 4 weeks. They blamed the payroll dept then that dept threw it back saying it was an in-store admin error, cat and mouse was the game. Worst company I’ve ever worked for, I felt cheated by the experience, so hearing this revelation doesn’t surprise me one iota!

    • Boycott all M&S stores, they are so undeserving of your custom. Btw this is not a biased view, my daughter inlaw worked for them on a permanent basis and was treated poorly, she’s now much happier and respected by a rival retailer.

    • Obi Wan Kenobi

      The ‘Due to an admin error’ excuse is used when an organisation has been caught out and covers a multitude of sins.

      It’s the polite way of saying:

      You’re f*c*d, we have done this on purpose but were gonna make it look like we haven’t and no-one on our end has done anything wrong.

  11. In a nutshell it’s not just the unemployed they exploit!

  12. M&S have been going down the pan for years. Take their women’s clothing range for example, rails & rails of frumpy, dowdy skirts & jackets & those weird shapeless tops they seem to have in abundance. As for their “classier” Per Una range , some of the clothes are truly hideous, all those frills & mismatched prints. If you want to look older than your age, shop at M&S!
    Food department no better, they don’t even sell their own brand anymore.One of my cats is a fussy eater & she seemed to prefer M&S brand cat food to any other so I went in fairly recently to buy her some, there was none. The shelves were stacked up with Whiskas & Felix instead Which I can buy anywhere and cheaper too.
    Added to this some of the rudest sales staff under the sun, maybe they were workfare slaves it was impossible to know.
    Goodbye M&S, you won’t be missed.

  13. Reblogged this on Teesside Anarchist Affinity Group and commented:
    Remember, it’s another Workfare Week of Action – more details on Say no to slave labour!

  14. Can someone please post the details of the M&S Newcastle protest this weekend, It’s probably Northumberland St but the info is only available via Assbook which I ain’t signing up to.

  15. Arbeitsscheu_UK

    Is M&S Workfare Scheme Illegal? Either that or they are liars

  16. About sums up what New Labour is ALL about…

  17. I have got a brochure from an inclusión seminar and in it Its all about branding and getting your logo seen in the right place and right way..Its got fuck all about helping poor people …Its no more than a trade fare..sickening

  18. you were right about m&s deirdre, read below

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