- Cait Reilly said Government programme breached Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, prohibiting slavery and forced labour
- But the High Court threw out her claim today
- But the Government was criticised for not explaining the work was not mandatory, High Court heard
A graduate made to work for her jobless benefits as a shelf stacker in Poundland who said it was ‘forced labour’ which breached her human rights has lost her High Court case today.
Cait Reilly claimed that a Government scheme requiring her to work for free at the budget chain – or risk losing her £53.45-a-week jobseeker’s allowance -breached laws banning slavery.
Her lawyer even compared her client’s experience to asylum seekers being put in detention centres.
But throwing out her case today Justice Foskett said that ‘characterising such a scheme as involving or being analogous to “slavery” or “forced labour” seems to me to be a long way from contemporary thinking.’
The 23-year-old said she had to give up a voluntary post in a museum to take the placement but was promised a job interview if she completed two weeks training at Poundland. However she claimed that never materialised.
Unemployed mechanic Jamieson Wilson, 41, also challenged the legality of another Government work scheme that compels the jobless to take unpaid work, but he also lost his case.
However, Judge Fosket said both Miss Reilly and Mr Wilson were each entitled to a declaration that there had been breaches of the 2011 jobseeker’s allowance regulations in their cases.
Mistakes had been made in notifying Ms Reilly about the requirements of the Work Academy Scheme so that she did not appreciate the scheme was not mandatory. Mr Wilson had been given inadequate notice about the Community Action Programme (CAP).
But the judge ruled neither scheme was contrary to article four, and the errors made did not invalidate the 2011 jobseeker’s allowance regulations.
The ruling will come as a relief to the Government. Had it lost today’s legal challenge, it was likely that all back-to-work schemes would have been potentially invalid.