Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Why “Work Experience” scheme is not voluntary

with 3 comments

There is much confusion as to work placements on the Work Experience scheme being voluntary or mandatory.

It is mandatory, we will explain why:-

  1. It is an employment programme (treats participants as employees and the placement as a job) that carries benefit sanctions as penalty for non-compliance
  2. An employment officer at the Jobcentre has to mandate the jobseeker on to the scheme in a similar way to the Work Programme, Community Action Programme, or Mandatory Work Activity scheme.
  3. It is supposed to be offered to the jobseeker as a suggestion, allowing the jobseeker to decide whether to take the opportunity or not; however, in some cases known to Ipswich Unemployed Action, some jobseekers are forced on to the scheme by their adviser.
  4. A jobseeker cannot apply for the scheme, it is the jobcentre adviser that actions such referral and has control – for example, a jobseeker cannot enter the scheme if his or hers adviser refuses to do so and likewise cannot opt out if the adviser is stubborn and refuses to accept no as an answer.
  5. If the jobseeker refuses, fails or gives up a place on Work Experience he or she will have a sanction doubt raised against him or her.
  6. Technically, a jobseeker leaving in the probation period (first week) still should get a sanction doubt raised against him or her.
  7. The probation period is good cause – that is a valid defence to a sanction doubt; not immunity from one being raised. (In a similar way to a case of killing someone in self-defence most would still have to stand trial in most cases, the lack of penalty isn’t the same as lack of action)
  8. To save money from no chance sanction doubts – someone leaving in the probation period is unlikely to have a sanction doubt raised when the law clearly states the jobseeker is protected. It could be argued it is vexatious if this proper procedure was to be active.
  9. The jobseeker once signed up to the scheme cannot opt out after changing his or hers mind. The jobseeker must attend the first day to avoid a benefit sanction.
  10. The jobseeker must attend and participate on the first day. If a change of heart is made before the scheme commences, in order to get out of the scheme, he or she must work the whole first day – this is forced labour.
  11. If the jobseeker decides half way through the first day that he or she doesn’t want to do the work placement he or she cannot stop performing labour without getting a benefit sanction.
  12. Jobseekers were not made aware of the probation period – many people have said it was voluntary up until mandated where the jobcentre have said its mandatory now and you will be sanctioned if you refuse.
  13. If there is a family emergency, the jobseeker cannot pack up work and leave without getting a sanction doubt raised – in most circumstances the jobcentre might consider such as “good cause” in itself but a decision maker is left to decide and a family emergency in your mind might not be the same in the DWP guidance.

To Recap:-

  • You cannot individually apply for such work experience placement by freedom of thought, freedom of expression and your own will without influence, persuasion, bullying or acceptance by your jobcentre adviser
  • You have no right to cancel prior to the placement commencing or on the first day
  • You have no right to cancel in the second to eighth (if that long in duration) week
  • You must work the first day or be sanctioned

I understand some will be thinking “its just one days work you scrounger!” My point is even so its not voluntary and shouldn’t be labelled as such.

vs voluntary

Lets take a voluntary position at a charity. Keep in mind most volunteers are very reliable, I do not want to do them any injustice, this is just an example!

Typically you will sign up, some written or verbal agreement (although outside an employment contract). You can decide before you start after you made such pledge that you have changed your mind. It wont cost you anything. You will be expected to do the end of that day or shift – but you may leave at any time. You can opt to do more rather than less and to an extent you can decide what to do. Your work directly benefits people and you aren’t making shareholders rich. Its also likely you aren’t displacing paid staff.


Written by Universal Jobmatch

February 22, 2012 at 10:31 am

Posted in DWP

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3 Responses

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  1. I think this comes from the Army,

    “We want three volunteers, You, You and You.”

    Andrew Coates

    February 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    • Yes, mandatory volunteering is conscription. In a civilian workplace that is forced labour.

      I thought forced or compulsory labour is illegal under Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 in England, and section 47 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

      Remember “forced or compulsory labour is defined as:


      It is therefore of paramount importance for all Jobseekers to declare themselves to be non-volunteers – beware if you are asked at any time if you would consider voluntary work.

      That old military adage is right: NEVER VOLUNTEER!


      February 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm

  2. the thing that does me about this workfare, if you have been in work for years like many have, they are giving you your own money back through the taxes you paid while working, and then making you work for it again it aint there money, its the persons that paid into the system. So why should you work for your own money all over again by doing unpaid work programme placements to help the goverment and tesco profits bigger

    Wayne green

    February 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm

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