Tesco offers to pay work experience candidates and give them job
Tesco has offered to pay all work experience candidates referred to the supermarket through Jobcentre Plus and give them a job at the end of their placement if they do well, in a move designed to curb the growing anger towards the company over unpaid placements.
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The UK’s biggest supermarket has announced it will offer all Jobseekers Allowance work experience candidates a paid four-week placement with the company and a guaranteed job at the end of the scheme, provided they complete the placement successfully.
Candidates will have the choice of remaining on JSA benefits, paid at a little over £50 a week for under-25s, or taking up the paid placement with a job at the end of it, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
Richard Brasher, chief exectuive of Tesco UK, said: “We know it is difficult for young people to give up benefits for a short-term placement with no permanent job at the end of it. So this guarantee that a job will be available provided the placement is completed satisfactorily, should be a major confidence boost for young people wanting to enter work on a permanent basis.”
When Tesco began offering work experience to Jobcentre Plus jobseekers last May, as part of the Government’s new work academy scheme, it pledged to create 3,000 placements. It has completed 1,500 placements to date and said the remaining 1,500 candidates will be offered the choice of staying on their benefits or taking up the paid placement.
Tesco recruits about 7,000 people each year in its stores nationwide and now 1,500 of those jobs will come from the Jobcentre route. The jobs are not extra to any recruitment plans the company has.
Over the past week, Tesco has come under fire for hiring hundreds of unemployed benefits claimants on four-week work experience schemes in return for no pay – just expenses and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), at £53.45 per week for under-25s.
The placements were part of a Government welfare scheme aimed at encouraging business to provide unpaid work placements, to improve jobseekers’ skills and make them more “job ready”. It is voluntary, but if applicants pull out, there is a threat they will lose their JSA payments.
The job advert which sparked the Twitter row
Tesco said it continued to seek reassurances from the Government that if jobseekers dropped out of the work experience scheme, they would not lose their benefits. The supermarket has only ever taken part in the voluntary programme and not the “mandatory work activity” scheme which is more controversial.
A statement on Tuesday said: “Tesco has suggested to the Department of Work and Pensions that, to avoid any misunderstanding about the voluntary nature of the scheme, the risk of losing benefits that currently exists should be removed.”
The Tesco jobs row kicked off on social media site Twitter last week. Campaign activists used the site to rally support to boycott Tesco and raise awareness over the scheme, which they claim equates to “slave labour” as employers receive four weeks of unpaid labour.
The British Chambers of Commerce today urged the Government and employers not to let the debate on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook drive policy decisions on tackling youth unemployment.
A petition to abolish all welfare work experience schemes in the UK, run by campaign group Unfair Workfare, has attracted more than 7,000 signatures to date.
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