Both HMV and Burger King are amongst the latest of big employers to withdraw from the scheme that offers people a chance to improve their skills in the hope of leading to paid employment.
However, the scheme has not come without a lot of controversy. The scheme has divided opinion, with Boris Johnson and David Cameron heralding it as a good way of helping people into employment and others calling it slave labour and impeding on peoples chances to look for paid employment.
As a result of all the pressure Employment Minister, Chris Grayling has since said that people who do not remain with the employer for more than a week will no longer lose their benefits. This was the aspect of the scheme that had come under so much criticism. HMV pulled out after they experienced a 30 second protest outside of their Oxford Street flagship store. On top of this short lived demonstration, however, they cited the bad press on various internet sites and blogs as their reason for pulling out. Tesco have decided to create some distance between them and the scheme by vowing to pay those who work with them should they decide to give up their benefits.
Since the scheme started, of the thousands involved, only 220 have actually been sanctioned. The British Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the announcement to remove the possibility to lose benefits. Work experience has been an extremely important tool for helping people to get back into employment or indeed to attain their first job after education. Although the sanction to remove the right to benefits is no longer a part of the scheme, employers still have the ability to dismiss people for acts of gross misconduct. This way the employers are protected but there is less avenue for criticism from those less convinced by the scheme.
Those who were in favour of the scheme will not be happy with the large players who have left it as a result of its intense criticism. Hopefully, now that it will be less controversial fewer or no more employers will decide to leave the scheme. Those who support the scheme continue to point out that it is completely voluntary.