Geology graduate claims government’s work experience scheme breached her human rights
A Geology graduate has claimed that she was ‘forced’ to quit doing voluntary work at a museum to take part in the Government work experience scheme which involved sweeping up and stacking shelves at a Poundland store. Cat Reilly’s lawyers say that the work experience programme breached her human rights under Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits slavery and forced labour.
Miss Reilly, 22, says that she was told to take the two week placement or risk losing her benefits. This meant that she had to leave her voluntary work at a museum.
This week the legal team acting on behalf of the unemployed graduate asked the High Court to rule that the regulations brought in by the Department for Work and Pensions to set up the work acadamy’ workfare scheme is in breach of Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The aim of the work schemes is at the end to provide the participant with a job interview but in this case despite carrying out unpaid work for five hours a day Miss Reilly was not given the job interview she was promised.
Lawyers acting for Miss Reilly have argued that the Government’s regulations are too vague and open-ended which means that many of the schemes are without clear guidelines on what they entail.
Nathalie Lieven QC, acting on behalf of Miss Reilly said: “She only participated because she was told by the advisor the training was mandatory and that she had to attend.”
“Ms Reilly was not given the option whether to participate in a scheme that involved unpaid work for a private company.”
She added “Such work did not contribute to her search for work to any extent.”