High Court Dismisses Forced Labour Claim

Unemployed Cait Reilly has been assigned to undertake some unpaid work under a government scheme in order not to lose her benefits. She was given a job in Poundland, where she was required to stack the shelves. however the girl submitted a claim, as she considered  this job  to be “forced labour” which was in breach with her human rights.

Mr Justice Foskett , a High Cour Judge rejected her claims and described them as “a long way from contemporary thinking”.

After dismissing Ms. Reilly`s claims and a similar one by an unemployed lorry driver , Jamieson Willson, he said that their schemes both included unpaid work violate article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which outlaws slavery.

However, he said that the governement schemes were”a very long way removed from the kind of colonial exploitation of labour that led to the formulation of Article 4″.

The Department of Work and Pensions said: “We are delighted, although not surprised, that the judge agrees our schemes are not forced labour. Comparing our initiatives to slave labour is not only ridiculous but insulting to people around the world facing real oppression.”

The government is constantly seeking for ways to improve the employment situation in the UK, however some new back-to-work scemes were accepted sceptically by some employers as they feared they might be seen as exploiting workers.

Ms. Reilly`s lawyers said she actually signed up to the Sector Based Work Academy scheme (SBWA), whereas she did not assume this might include stacking shelves in Poundland without any wage.

The judge agrees that the details of the scheme were not very clearly explained, so it is not surprising, it often leads to confusions for both employees and employers. Mr. Foskett decreed that Ms. Reilly was entitled to a declaration that there had been breaches of the 2011 jobseeker’s allowance regulations. Mr Wilson, who was signed up to the Community Action Programme (CAP) was also granted a similar declarations.

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