Waterstones withdraws from unpaid placement scheme

The Guardian has reported today that high street retailer Waterstones has withdrawn from the controversial unpaid work placement programme that has seen the Department for Work and Pensions facing a claim that has breached the Human Rights Act.

The scheme involves major high street chains taking on job seekers for unpaid placements which can last for weeks. It hit the headlines recently after Cait Reilly, an unemployed graduate who embarked on a placement with Poundland, brought a case against the DWP claiming that the scheme was illegal since it equated to “forced labour”.

Waterstones’ move is a bold one, and it will be interesting to see whether any other major chains follow suit. The Guardian claims that brands currently taking part in this sort of scheme include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Asda, Maplin, TK Maxx, Matalan, Primark, Holland & Barrett, Boots, McDonald’s, Burger King and the Arcadia group of clothes stores.

Waterstones’ consumer and employer brands will presumably receive a boost thanks to its actions, which could be said to outweigh the benefits of receiving some free labour out of the scheme, and it will be interesting to see whether any of these big chains choose to do the same.

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