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‘Work for your Benefit’ Scheme does not breach of human rights

Tuesday, 03 December 2013, Categories Latest News | Employment News | VP News | Employment Updates

Government back to the drawing board


Back to Work Scheme

You may remember that back in February there was a legal challenge against the legality of the Government’s ‘Back to Work’ schemes. Cait Reilly made national headlines when she complained that being forced to do unpaid work at Poundland was unlawful, breached her human rights and more generally did not help her find a job.

Essentially, there were two arguments made by Cait Reilly and another:

  1. The schemes introduced by the Government (which made Jobseekers’ Allowance conditional on completing unpaid work experience) were unlawful as they did not comply with all the requirements of section 17A of the Jobseeker’s Act 1995.
  2. The schemes were ‘forced labour’, breaching Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Court's decision

The Supreme Court has now ruled that on the first point, the Schemes were unlawful but on the second point, requiring Claimants to work as a condition of benefit “comes nowhere close to the type of exploitative conduct at which article 4 is aimed”.

Unfortunately for Cait Reilly and others like her, the real outcome of this very long dispute will be that the Government will have to come up with new Regulations to make the schemes lawful, and it seems that they are determined to do so.


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