Burger King leaves work experience scheme for jobless

A Burger King restaurant Burger King said it withdrew from the scheme following "recent concerns expressed by the public"

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Fast-food chain Burger King has become the latest firm to pull out of the government's controversial work experience scheme for jobless people.

It said it had registered to take on youngsters at its Slough headquarters but withdrew due to "public concerns".

Critics say the project is a form of "slave labour" because people work for nothing, while keeping their benefits.

The government said those campaigning against it should think carefully about the consequences of their actions.

Burger King said it registered for the voluntary Get Britain Working programme six weeks ago, but had not recruited anyone since.

"Given the recent concerns expressed by the public we have decided to no longer have any involvement in the programme," it said in a statement.

'Some commitment'

Participants continue to receive jobseeker's allowance (JSA) and may receive a contribution to travel or childcare costs.

But anyone who cuts a placement short after more than a week may have their benefits stopped for two weeks.

Start Quote

It's not slave labour or anything like that”

End Quote George Eustice Conservative MP

Tesco has offered to pay people on the scheme and asked ministers to remove the threat of benefit sanctions.

Rival supermarket Sainsbury's said the small number of its stores that took part in the scheme had since ceased participation, as it was not company policy.

Fashion chain Matalan said it had suspended its involvement pending a review and book seller Waterstones and electrical retailer Maplin have already left.

But Employment Minister Chris Grayling defended the scheme, saying half of those who joined had found a job, often with the company that placed them on work experience.

"All of the evidence we can see is that this does better than simply leaving people on JSA, it actually helps more young people get into work.

"I don't accept that the scale of the campaign is very large, it's a small number of activists who are deliberately targeting these companies and trying to destabilise them," he said.

Conservative MP George Eustice said companies considering leaving the scheme should not bow to public pressure.

"The truth is that the first step to getting a job and getting back into the jobs market is having some work experience and learning to work and turning up for work on time and being part of a relied on team," he said.

"And so I think this scheme's incredibly important. It's only for a few weeks. It's not slave labour or anything like that and I think that if it's to work... you do need them to show some commitment."

The programme is aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds unemployed for more than three months, but less than nine.

Participants have an unpaid placement for two to eight weeks, working 25 to 30 hours a week.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 592.

    I've worked at a local jobcentre sending ET's & YTS's on unpaid work experience & employers will exploit them for cheap labour.I've seen it first hand.1 trick is to tell the 'trainee' there maybe a job at the end of it & if they work hard they may be taken on.In reality there isn't a job at the end, the employer uses any excuse they want & get another one to take their place & tell them the same

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    It's important to note that the scheme is not just aimed at 16-24 year olds but people who are 25 years old and over (and who are more likely to have work experience and the necessary skills).

    If there's work to be done, there's a job to be done.

    The only one's getting something for nothing are these private companies.

    You don't have to be left-wing to want a fair wage for a fair days work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    I organised work experience placements in our business. We gave them a look at every part of our work and asked them to do a project on something we were interested in so they could feel part of our team. Another business I know made its trainees stand copying documents all day so one of the office staff could have a holiday. Without proper safeguards young people on this scheme will be exploited.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    As an employer we sometimes come across someone who impresses us so much that we create a new job for them that didn't exist before just so that we can keep that person within our business. We invest in them.

    If we hadn't met the person we wouldn't have created the job and a scheme that allows youngsters to get past the "First Impressions" stage which not all are good at improves their chances.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Seems some people would prefer to see youngsters just drawing the dole than having a chance of a job. Why? It can only be political. How cynical.

    The scheme might persuade an employer to take on one more youngster than they really need on the basis of "giving it a try". That's the benefit, more to the young person than the employer but it might be someone who can prove their worth.


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