dwpWe interviewed someone the other day for a role as an office junior. The interview went well and we discussed the silliness of the “no experience” situation – you’ve got no experience so you can’t get a job, you’ve can’t get a job so you can’t get any experience.

She was duly offered the job, which pays the minimum wage for up to the first three months. She accepted. Great!

A couple of hours later she phoned the office to say she couldn’t take the job as she wouldn’t then be able to contribute to her Mums rent – essentially that she’d be better off on benefits.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with James Purnell (yes, name dropping again – sorry!) when he was the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions.  I pointed out that there must be  hundreds of thousands of people in a similar situation as this girl.

His response was that benefits should be seen as a safety net, not as an alternative to working. I do agree with him, but the fact is people DO see it like that, whether they should or not.

In business we can’t afford to be idealistic. We perhaps could have paid more for the role to make it worth her while, but a part of me says we shouldn’t as I don’t want to employ people with the short-term mentality of “I’m better of on benefits”.

– Should government policy do more to force people off the dole and into paid work? (It was a New Deal scheme that allowed me to start KashFlow)

– I know I could shop her to the job center for not taking the role and her benefits would be stopped – but I wouldn’t do that. Should I have done?

– Does the current state of the economy and apparent lack of jobs make any difference to how this should be handled?

– Can we, as business owners, do more to address this situation than just create jobs?

– Am I the villain of the piece for only offering minimum wage for the role?

They’re all questions to which I don’t have the answer. Your thoughts?

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