The key problem with the Government’s welfare-to-work scheme is that it places businesses in the spotlight, facing potential allegations of exploitation. Many large companies have invested considerable amounts of time and money cleaning up their own organisations and putting systems and processes in place to ensure that they employ people fairly and properly.
They have also taken considerable steps to avoid sourcing from companies that use unpleasant and illegal work practices. Consequently many companies feel uncomfortable using a scheme that effectively offers free labour and requires them to employ people in a way they are simply not used to.
A company’s reputation is its most valuable asset, so to be asked by Government to adopt a scheme that looks like damaging that asset is something they are understandably unhappy about.
The Government needs to amend this scheme to ensure that the firms involved can top up the benefits of those taking part so that their income equates to the minimum wage. This would ensure that the scheme not only provides valuable work experience for those taking part, but also protects the reputation of the companies involved by guaranteeing that the pay to participants conforms to the spirit of minimum wage legislation. This ensures parity of income for employees, whether hired or part of the scheme, and also protects the reputation of participating companies.