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News Poundland Staff Working Unpaid Under Government Scheme

Discussion in 'Retail' started by Cody, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. Cody

    Cody

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    poundland-government-scheme-don't-pay-staff.jpg

    Poundland have been criticised for their involvement in a government scheme that has seen jobseekers working for free, for up to two months.

    The government scheme, managed by Jobcentres across the UK had told many of those unpaid jobseekers this was a voluntary work placement, however for one unpaid member of staff whom had worked for 30 hours a week for free stacking shelves came forward saying: "I had no say in it really."

    Currently it is unclear how many unpaid jobseekers have been taken on under this government scheme as the government don't collect information regarding this, however it is understood that one of the Poundland stores in Bolton has taken on 21 unpaid employees. This information was collected by a Freedom of Information request; surely the government can use this power centrally to gather the numbers from all Poundland stores.

    The unpaid employees were not provided any paperwork to record their working hours and time spent in the stores, meaning they could have clearly been working much longer hours with no knowledge of what shifts they had already undertaken. Is this exploitation in the workplace?

    Poundland say they had signed this deal with Department for Work and Pensions in January to take on jobseekers for this unpaid voluntary work experience with no other benefits. The programme was apparently designed to "help provide a taste of the world of work' - according to a statement from Poundland - for 18 to 24 year olds for two and eight weeks.

    Those involved in this "placement" still received their benefits, showing that Poundland did not act like others work experience programmes ran by the DWP where claimant's benefits would be withheld. Poundland also stated that some of these volunteers went on to become fully employed staff.

    Is this exploitation of people in the workplace?
    Should these people have been paid for their work?
    Or is this a good initiative to allow those to put back into society for the benefits they're being provided by the tax payer?
  2. Dean

    Dean

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    They are not working for 'free' as they are still being paid Job Seekers Allowance!!
  3. Miss Rose

    Miss Rose

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    I think the argument here is that, if companies like Poundland need workers then they should hire them rather than using cheap labour. The irony is that the 'unemployed' people then wouldn't need to be on jobseekers if companies like Poundland just gave them a job! There are clearly vacancies so why aren't Poundland hiring staff on the legal minimum wage? Let's be honest, Poundland isn't interested in this scheme because they want to 'help' people...
    I think it is a good idea to show people on jobseekers that they can't just get hand-outs and also provide them with some work experience, however I think this should only be done on a very short time basis and I think the companies should be limited to how many people they can take on per into this scheme. For example, what is stopping employers from taking on lots of 'jobseekers' for 2-8 weeks, they leave and then they take on another bunch etc etc - Poundland could staff their whole company for pennies using this method! This would, without a doubt, be exploitation.
  4. Cody

    Cody

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    Despite them being paid their JSA, should it still justify working those hours (6 hour days 5 days a week) for an average Job Seekers Allowance of £57.90 a week? It'd be probably better to get them an actual job instead for those extra working hours where they could actually be searching for, or doing a paid job - unless of course they're perfectly happy to do unpaid experience on top of claiming benefits, though in this case it seems many weren't, and Poundland are being criticised for it. Should the pay be more than the usual JSA to balance it out?
  5. Miss Rose

    Miss Rose

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    I am not against people being asked to work for their JSA, however I do agree with you that the payment should be fair. I think offering 'work experience' is a great idea and will help greatly with getting these people onto the job ladder, however I don't think companies should be allowed to pay any less than the minimum wage for an apprentice which is £3.50 per hour.
    If they were paid £3.50 per hour for example (which, let's be honest is still piddly), for a 30 hour week this would be £105 per week. I think that they should therefore top up the JSA to £105 per week (or Poundland should make up the extra £48 - which to be honest is a bargain for a weeks work). This would be a great incentive to jobseekers - it's rewarding them for hard work and also giving them a taste of PAID work. It's the money that makes people go to work after all - we need to give them a taste of the money! If they are making people work but not giving them any extra then how is that going to make them want to go out there and get a job? They are just going to bitter and resentful...
    There has to be a middle ground to make sure its benefits and rewards the people and not just the employers.
  6. Dean

    Dean

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    The thing is, they are probably not just receiving JSA. They are possibly also receiving housing benefit, council tax reductions, free prescriptions, etc. Some or all of these may be withdrawn if they were actually getting paid as an employee.

    Also how long have they been out of work prior to the work program? How many hours a week do they spend on a job searching? Average out the hours worked over a 12 month period and they are probably getting the equivalent to more than minimum wage.
    Cody likes this.
  7. Dean

    Dean

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    I'm not knocking benefits, I was on JSA myself for a short time between being made redundant from my last career and contracting briefly before starting the business. I just feel that there are still far too many people who would prefer not to work at all and prefer to remain on benefits despite being perfectly capable of working.
    Cody likes this.
  8. Cody

    Cody

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    It's a very tricky one I guess. Many are most likely getting all these other benefits - there's no information about that, but you're probably right. The systems needs to change, and have the incentive of getting work increased.

    I vote for, if you get a job you pay less tax... :cwl:
  9. Erik

    Erik

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    I think this one is a bit 50/50 for me. I cannot entirely be sure as to what Poundland do with this, say, loophole in the system. They do mention though that "some" get the full time job afterwards.

    What I think is that the point to be investigated is the % of how many of which do indeed get the full time job, and if was cut, the reason as to why. Dean is correct that indeed, some would just like to live with benefits and not work for it - so if a huge % of those being cut have volunteered to leave after 2 months, we could disregard them, making investigators (if they would investigate) 3 tallies overall:

    1 - # who left on their own
    2 - # of who did not get the full time job
    3 - # who got the full time job

    If the % of those who get the full time job is above 30%, I think that's fair. Around 50% would actually be amazing. Below 30% though, there should be some questioning as to why people leave or does not make the cut from the company. Then perhaps we could have a bit more grasp as to whether Poundland actually games the system or otherwise.
    Cody likes this.
  10. Cody

    Cody

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    Think we need to get more controversial posts going in the future ;)
  11. Gary

    Gary

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    Whereas I agree with the scheme in principle to give people experience and maybe even a reference, I think the execution is poor for several reasons, the main ones being...

    1. By simply having the scheme in its current form it does nothing to help unemployment levels, actually the opposite by getting free labour (to the company), they're not employing people, therefore it's contributing to unemployment by default, so it's creating as much of a problem as it's solving.

    2. If it must happen this way I think people should work to their equivalent weekly benefit amount (including any housing and council tax benefit) based on the companies usual hourly rate*.

    3. However, I think it would be better if the outlook is to gain work experience and, or references for those on the scheme to do otherwise undone community projects and voluntary work so it's not taking paid jobs from others. Again doing hours to the equivalent of their total benefit based on an equivalent/average/at least minimum wage*.

    *To explain, I'm not saying to pay them a wage on top of benefits because that would be a nightmare with universal/tax credits, reassessing housing and council tax benefits, reclaiming jobseekers allowance afterwards, etc. Just to work the hours up to what would be the equivalent wage to total benefit ratio.
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