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 524.

    510. markraf

    Actually it is you who have misunderstood the system! It is not just for 16-24 years olds (whatever the government says). It is for everyone from 16 to 65 if you are claiming benefits. There is also a pressure from the DWP for people to attend as their staff can make bonus payments when this is done. Result- lots of people on inappropriate schemes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    I would have thought the most useful part of the work experience would be "having some money to spend" in return for working. That would be motivation for wanting to make the situation more than temporary. As it is, the job seeker is tacitly being taught that working is the same as not working except you have greater costs and less free time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    Let's be clear about this - big business is pulling out of this because it now sees that it's fundamentally unfair on young people (who quite honestly should be at school or college) - this is not as a result of the Socialist Worker or any other group.
    We need a fair society - withdrawing benefits like this would never happen to disabled people, so why should it happen to other young people?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    @482 markraf

    "Remember; this scheme is for 16-24 year olds who can not find employment mostly because they have no experience. Employers want history."

    Really? I thought they wanted staff they didn't have to pay at all or pay NI for, or give holidays to, to replace staff they did have to pay for. Then rotate the 'free' staff every six months?

    Employers want less than Far East labour costs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    510. markraf

    I suggest you do some research. While the scheme discussed in this article is aimed at 16-24 year olds, there are other schemes that operate in the same manner for people of all ages, many of whom have paid into the system for years and are now being told they must work for their benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    You could only believe in a scheme like this if you had another agenda. This is not about job creation. If you want to make young people attractive to employers bring back EMA and give our kids a better schooling experience. I wander how many kids from Eton took advantage of this scheme?

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    If all the retail companies have no faith in the scheme, then why dont they all get together and come up with one that will work, then approach the government for approval. All these so called MP's have obviously not got a clue. Let the experts in employing people do the job, I bet they could come up with a scheme that benefits all and is cheaper to run.

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    People complain that the benefit system means people can claim relatively large sums of money for doing nothing - but when a scheme like this comes along, whereby the young can actually work for those same benefits, thats slave labour. Maybe we the public should make our mind up about whether we want people to EARN their benefits or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    Just don't make a volunteering scheme compulsory. We have a benefit system in this country, some abuse it yes. But the rewards of volunteering should be gaining employability and experience, not keeping benefits but help to come off them and earn some 'decent' money- obviously its tough at the moment, but there are jobs out there, just got to boost your CV by any means.

  • 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 513.

    Let's face it - they STILL don't WANT work - they'd rather continue to 'Leech' off their Parents - Encouraged by our Left-wing Media, the Unions AND 'not for OUR little precious' , misguided Parents... Diddums!

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    So it's not fair to get paid appropriately for the work you do for these companies, 'just' because you are on the unemployment books?
    These schemes are not voluntary at all, if you refuse you get sanctioned which can be up to 6 months without ANYTHING.
    Working full time on jobseekers is exploitation. If it was min wage they'd be no issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    I saw a teen girl interviewed on national TV about the scheme. She had no qualms at all in saying she'd rather not work and stay home if not participating in the scheme didn't affect her dole money.
    That attitude is what we have to overcome. I acknowledge that the scheme isn't perfect. I'd rather see people say how it should be improved though, rather than just saying 'scrap it'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    482 @ Nemesis65

    I do not think there is any need for insults! Additionally, I think you misunderstand the system; it is for young 16-24 year olds who DO NOT HAVE AND CAN NOT FIND EMPLOYMENT OR EXPERIENCE. I am sorry you have lost your job but , if you are as talented as you say you are then re-employment should not be an issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    "504. Mr Meldrew - Perhaps these work opportunities should be offered amongst smaller start up businesses that are trying to expand or need an extra person to help out".

    If businesses require an extra person to help out then they should be employing a person at the going rate.

    Not at well below NMW as is the case in these work placements.

  • 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 507.

    495. theilliberal

    From your comments it appears that you do believe that everyone claiming benefits is a workshy yobbo who doesn't deserve their benefits. It is really you who needs to grow up as your comments actually reveal your age and inexperience.

    I am claiming benefits simply because I have paid into the system since I graduated and as a result I have a right to them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    1) I have 2 close friends whose sons have good science degrees from good universities; both are at present working in charity shops to get work experience.
    2) My niece has an excellent Maths degree and has now trained as a teacher tells me there is only 1 Maths teacher vacancy in Manchester.

    There is a small hard-core of unemployable people but do not “tar everybody with the same brush”.

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    Instead of forcing young people into "forced" labour the Government should be encouraging these people into education and training. Surely?
    Why are young people forced into unpaid work when they still be at school or college? Stacking shelves is no future.
    I'm also very unimpressed with Grayling, who seems clueless on anything to do with people, employment and education. He should be sacked!


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