Is IDS’s plans for four weeks unpaid work legal?

Now, the government’s plans to introduce four weeks of around 30 hours a week unpaid (well paid in terms of benefits) work for those on job seekers got me thinking about the legality of such a move. Whilst I am no law buff, surely there must be problems with this regarding minimum wage? You are basically undercutting existing labour, depriving people from jobs that would need to be paid at a higher level and enforcing a form of slave labour.

A way around this would be for benefits to increase when these jobs are carried out, in line with legal requirements. It seems like a serious loop-hole that is being exploited. Chuka Umunna, for Labour, referred to how there is little difference between Labour’s and the Coalition’s plans – however, essentially, the difference is that Labour’s were more positive. It was work experience, not work per se. The difference is fundamental when it comes to legality.

Most people have done unpaid work experience, it is intended to give you skills and experience for future job opportunities. However, these current plans are instead an attempt to get jobs done for cheap, undercutting others, creating divisions and possibly breaking the law (something I am not saying is a fact, just something that needs considering).

Regardless, even if this is a legal practice it is immoral and unhelpful. However, even if it is illegal, I am sure there will be a way for the vested power interests to bend the laws to make it happen.


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