Universal Jobmatch Mandatory (but not ‘Blanket’) from 4th March.
The PCS trade union has announced,
“The Secretary of State for DWP will make an announcement on 1st March 2013 that, with effect from 4th March 2013, FLAs can mandate claimants to register for UJ. This will be done via a Jobseeker Direction. Importantly, however, management have acknowledged that mandatory sign up to UJ will not be a blanket approach; instead, FLAs should encourage claimants to use UJ. Mandatory sign up will be on an individual basis, if the FLA feels that UJ would be beneficial to the claimant, and they have ‘unreasonably refused’. Management will be issuing guidance around this shortly.
Currently, EU cookie legislation prevents mandatory sign up requiring customers to use their home computers to register for, or use UJ. This is because the choice to accept cookies on your computer has to be made ‘freely’, under the EU legislation. This means that if an FLA seeks to mandate a claimant to register on UJ, they will need to look at alternative methods of doing so – Internet Access Device (IAD) within a jobcentre, use of computer in local library, etc. Management refer to this as their ‘tactical solution’. PCS have raised doubts that there are sufficient resources within Jobcentres to enable this to be a realistic workaround.
However, the UJ project has indicated that they are seeking to make changes to the UJ site which will provide an option to remove the cookies from home computers. When these changes are made, FLAs will be able to mandate customers to sign up from home. This is what management are calling the ‘strategic’ solution, but they are unable to say when this ‘fix’ will be implemented.
Access to UJ Account
If, and when, a claimant signs up to UJ, they will be encouraged to give DWP access to their account. However, it is absolutely clear from a legal perspective that the claimant does not have to tick the box to give DWP access to their account, and can provide alternative proof of UJ sign up and use, e.g. screenprints
FLAs setting up UJ Accounts
It has been brought to the attention of PCS that some District Managers are encouraging FLAs to set up their own UJ account and then take claimants for a ‘walkthrough’ of the system. PCS has challenged the security aspect of this process and, as a result, management centrally, have issued clear instructions that this practice must stop. PCS has received assurances centrally that any advisor, following what they believed to be a ‘reasonable management request’, will face no disciplinary action as a result of their actions.
Robustness of UJ Site
PCS has raised serious concerns around the robustness of the UJ site. The UJ site has already attracted widespread media attention due to a number of rogue job adverts that have appeared and security concerns. Management have stated that they have increased the number of checks on the site to prevent ‘bogus’ adverts appearing, but are unable to offer any cast-iron guarantees that vacancies of this type will not appear in the future. PCS has also challenged management around employers offering jobs with salaries/wages below the national minimum wage level. Again, management state that they are constantly monitoring any misuse of the system. Although they admit that there a number of fixes to the site still to be made, for example around the geographical searches, management insist that the site popular and well used.
The view of PCS is that Universal Jobmatch is nothing more than a crude tool being used by DWP management to help deliver this government’s ‘scorched earth’ approach to the welfare reform agenda. Disgracefully, it is PCS members who are at the forefront of criticism from claimants and welfare groups alike when failings of the system are highlighted across the national media. FLAs should follow the guidance and use their own discretion when mandating claimants to sign up to UJ, and resist any local targets or blanket approaches at a local level.
The working processes outlined within this circular are absolute and not subject to any “interpretation” by district managers. Any attempt to amend these processes under the banner of ‘Freedoms and Flexibilities’ should be escalated to the Group Office as a matter of urgency.”
- In Suffolk the public Library Computer system will not support Universal Jobmatch (just one of the problems this ‘privatised charity’ is causing). How can you get access to it if you do not have a home link to the Net? Johnny Void says that ” Jobcentres will be providing Internet Access Devices for those unable or unwilling to use a home PC.”. We are sceptical, very sceptical , that local Jobcentres will be able to cope with the demand. Ipswich Silent Street DWP and JC are straining to park their growing number of clients as it is.
- “Currently, EU cookie legislation prevents mandatory sign up requiring customers to use their home computers to register for, or use UJ.” So even if you have a link to the Net they can’t make you sign up through your home broadband etc.
- If you feel you would like to use Universal Jobmatch (and we would hardly recommend ignoring any way of getting proper work) you do not need to give your ‘adviser’ access to your account. If you dislike Nosey-Parkers, do not mark the box which allows this.
On the Web we learn that security problems, the risk of identity theft, and bogus job announcements, continue.
This is no surprise: the system is created by some American company whose interests are far from public service.
It is likely that more difficulties will come to light in the coming weeks.
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