Benefits claimants are being ‘exploited’ by unpaid DWP work trials

Stewart McDonald MP has slammed the Department’s jobs project, which offers claimants unpaid work trials, stating a future paid job vacancy may be made available.

Under the scheme, claimants continue to receive benefits but do not receive any additional payment on top of this.

This results in claimants working for the below the minimum wage on placements which can last for up to 30 days.

Currently, the minimum wage is £8.91 per house for those 23 and over, with workers aged 21 and 22 receiving £8.36.

Those aged between 18 and 20 get £6.56, while under 18s get £4.62. This age demographic is more likely to be affected by the ’s job scheme.

MPs argue claimants’ time would be better spent applying for paid work and receiving additional financial assistance while under the DWP’s care.

For individuals taking part in the work trials, the standard allowance under Universal Benefit is £344 per month for a single person under 25, and £411.51 a month for someone single who is 25 or over.

Earlier this week, Mr McDonald asked the Government’s Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Minister if proper assessments had been carried out to investigate banning unpaid work trials.

The Glasgow South MP contextualised his question under the backdrop of a series of recent incidents resulting from the scheme.

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“When recruiting, an employer can ask an individual to carry out a short unpaid work trial to demonstrate that they have the skills required for the job.”

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“But if a work trial is excessively long, or not part of a genuine recruitment purpose, employers must pay participants at least the legal minimum wage.

“The Government is committed to ensuring that anyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage receives it. Since 2015, we have ordered employers to repay £100 million of unpaid wages to 1 million workers.

“The existing legislation and enforcement are sufficiently robust to ensure that no worker undertakes an exploitative unpaid work trial.”

Following Mr Scully’s response, Mr McDonald replied: “The UK Government’s claim that current enforcement against unpaid work trials is robust enough is almost laughable if it weren’t so shocking given the number of high-profile incidents recently.

“The culture of unpaid work is a scourge on society and the UK government must show its willingness to tackle this exploitative practice.”

He added: “Whilst the Tory Government went out of its way to block previous legislation, there is a clear consensus across the country that unpaid trial shifts are pernicious and plainly unfair.

“It’s high time this unfair practice was brought to an end, and the UK Government must bring forward legislation to end unpaid trial shifts and ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay.”

Speaking to The Daily Record, the SNP MP elaborated on his issue with the scheme, which he considers harmful.

Mr McDonald explained: “I find that staggering that JobCentres are actively helping create unpaid opportunities for claimants that could last from around a week and up to 30 days.

“I have previously been told by Government ministers that unpaid work trials are exploitative and against the law and I see clearly that this is absolutely not the case when the Government’s own departments are helping create such unpaid work trials.”

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He continued: “Jobseekers and those on benefits participate in these programmes out of good faith, sometimes for up to 30 days at a time, and it is not right should they receive no wage and no guarantee of a job at the end of it.”

A DWP spokesperson responded to’s request for comment on the statements made by Mr McDonald.

They said: “Work trials are voluntary, and a claimant’s benefits will not be affected if they finish early or turn down a job they’re offered.

“If a customer volunteers for a work trial, the Jobcentre will first ensure the employer is offering a genuinely worthy opportunity that could lead to employment.

“Work trials can be up to 30 days and customers who volunteer are financially supported throughout by the Jobcentre.”



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