A university graduate who claimed that the work she did at a Poundland store amounted to slavery has today won her case at the Court of Appeal.
Judges ruled that the regulations governing the government’s back-to-work schemes are unlawful and quashed them.
Cait Reilly, 24, from Birmingham, and Jamieson Wilson, a 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver from Nottingham, both won their claims that the unpaid work placements they went on were legally flawed.
They had lost their original case, but part of this decision has now been reversed by the Appeal Court.
The government will now have to look at fresh regulations governing work placements which are fair and comply with the court’s ruling.
Responding to the court ruling, the minister for employment, Mark Hoban, said:
“The court has backed our right to require people to take part in programmes which will help get them into work. It’s ridiculous to say this is forced labour. This ruling ensures we can continue with these important schemes.
“We are, however, disappointed and surprised at the court’s decision on our regulations. There needed to be flexibility so we could give people the right support to meet their needs and get them into a job. We do not agree with the court’s judgment and are seeking permission to appeal, but new regulations will be tabled to avoid any uncertainty.
“Ultimately the judgment confirms that it is right that we expect people to take getting into work seriously if they want to claim benefits.”
Unison assistant general secretary, Karen Jennings, said it was time for the government to “ditch these unlawful policies which force people to work without pay or lose their benefits”.
“Multi-million pound companies receiving free labour are the only winners of the Tory back to work programmes. The losers are those who are forced into jobs that, in many cases, have nothing to do with their qualifications, or the jobs they are looking for,” she said.