Are these jobsearch requirements legal?

I have been hearing disturbing stories about the requirements being foisted on job-seekers by representatives of the government, and I’m hoping some Vox readers will be able to cast light on them.

I have a friend who is in the job market. I believe he has limits on his ability to work, although I don’t know what they are. He tells me that an advisor at a recent interview said he should move out of his one-bedroom flat and into different accommodation, in order to better facilitate his job search. My understanding is that the advisor claimed he should do this in order to be able to work from home.

The question is: Are these jobsearch advisors legally able to require him to move home?

My friend thinks not. He reckons that – by advising him to move – the advisor has broken EU regulations on human rights. In essence, this is interfering with his private life, and the advisor’s role is legally restricted to his professional life.

He asked me for my opinion and I have no idea. To my way of thinking it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask a person to change their situation in order to find gainful employment – it’s the modern equivalent of Norman Tebbit’s “Get on your bicycle” line; you go where the work is. I myself, with the then-Employment Service’s blessing – spent five months on a course in Cornwall getting my journalism qualification, in order to get a job at the end of it.

But it does seem unreasonable to ask somebody to undertake one of the most stressful life-changes human beings undergo – moving all their belongings from one place to another – on the off-chance that a job might come to you in your new abode that would not have arisen if you had stayed put. We’re not talking about moving to a different town where jobs are commonplace; just relocating within the same (small) town in Wales.

Does anybody have an insight on this?

The other issue is more of a warning than a query. The same friend was bullied into enrolling on the new Universal Jobmatch system. While browsing the available jobs, he found one for a company that claimed to employ people as ‘mystery customers’ to check on the service provided by other firms. Deeper investigation of the advert revealed that this company wanted a wealth of information from possible candidates before considering them for employment. This put my friend on guard and he got out without submitting any information.

A later search on the Internet revealed that the company had been involved in a series of illegal scams, including identity theft – that’s right, stealing people’s personal information and using it to fraudulently gain cash.

And this firm was advertising on the government’s brand-new jobsearch site, that won’t let people get away from a job advert without explaining why they’re not applying!

Has anybody else experienced this?

It seems this could be yet another indictment of the system brought in by the Coalition government, that tries to shoehorn people into jobs – apparently without even checking that those on its own site aren’t breaking the law.

19 thoughts on “Are these jobsearch requirements legal?

  1. Mike Sivier

    Kim Dexter also writes: “There is also something on the BBC site (sorry can’t find the link) about this citing the bogus jobs that are being posted and the disregard for Data Protection. As job centres are seemingly able to apply sanctions for almost anything (and it would be interesting to know what protection there is against that), they perhaps could try and force people to use UJ by saying they are not doing a thorough job search without looking at it, but from what I can gather it is not Mandatory as yet. It is also possible to look at the jobs on there without signing up to it.”
    Thanks to Kim and Julia for their information!

  2. Angie

    I have been told that never give out your bank account details or your national insurance number until you get the offer of a job and that was from the job centre in Leicester,

  3. Billyboy

    The Job Centres are not mandating people to use UJ. Instead they’re using Jobseeker’s Directions to force people onto it. If you disobey a Jobseeker’s Direction, then you’re sanctioned, potentially for three years if it’s a third offence. However, obviously you can’t be given a JD to jump off the roof, it’s putting yourself in harm’s way. Equally obviously you shouldn’t be given JDs to join UJ for the same reason. What are the limits on JDs? So far, this hasn’t been determined in law. It needs to be and very quickly too as after April there’s no legal aid any more for anything to do with benefits. This is yet another massively antisocial move by a Coalition of multimillionaires who don’t seem to understand grievances which can’t be settled lawfully won’t simply go away, instead they’ll be settled unlawfully. Expect chaos as this unelected mandate-free government propel us back to the days of Ancient Rome with its underclass of slaves who had no rights at all..

    1. Mike Sivier

      Again, I can’t support any unlawful action in black and white on this site, although I can certainly understand what you’re suggesting and see the sense in the prediction – that this government is storing up trouble for itself.

      1. Billyboy

        It appears to me the government is storing up trouble for everyone, not just itself. Look at the effects of the recent riots for example, and their effects on the broader community. No-one wants that. However, people will have no recourse to peaceful lawful settlement of their grievances because the government is quite deliberately taking access to law away at the same time as introducing a huge number of cuts which are desperately unfair. This country’s going to go up in flames next year when those cuts are implemented and it’s the government itself which will be to blame. What happened the last time we had the Tories in? We had the poll tax and look what it took to stop that. Well, imagine that much civil disruption but spread far wider and about multiple grievances, not just one. That’s what we’re facing.

  4. Michael Natkanski

    As I understand it, the UJ system is an off-shoot of the Monster system, ie of the commercial job agency Monster. Thus one would expect that the real jobs are on the Monster system, and duplicated on the UJ system, along with the dodgy stuff. So claimants could presumably search the same jobs on the commercial system, and satisfy job search criteria, without going near the toxic UJ system ?

    1. Mike Sivier

      It is indeed an invention of Monster (I think I covered that in a previous article). If there’s a commercial system, though, wouldn’t that require some sort of financial outlay from the user?

      1. Michael Natkanski

        I don’t know; I presume it is/was free to job applicants, and paid for by fees charged to job advertisers.

        It used to be the case that people with ‘real jobs’ would avoid the DWP; I guess that is going to happen again. I have had several angry replies from employers who are hopping mad about being swamped by thousands of CVs generated by idiotic DWP requirements – they are the new spam !

      2. Billyboy

        Again this is an aspect of UJ that the DWP, led as it is by the vengeful IDS, seems to have completely overlooked; employers won’t want to use it.
        With an increasing number of unemployed being forced under threat of three-year sanctions to apply needlessly and endlessly for jobs they don’t want and can’t take up employers themselves will want the UJ taken down. They will realise escaping the consequences of its existence isn’t simply a matter of not advertising on it as JCs routinely scour local papers for adverts to fill their databases with (or they did in my day, twenty years ago). They had to do that as clued-up employers wouldn’t have anything to do with them. Nationawide, they’ll be doing the same to populate UJ. I would suggest it’s only a matter of time before IDS (and the government which saw fit to elevate him to a position of great responsibility) attracts the ire of the entire business community.That should be the end of him and his mad ambitions. As it is unless he’s stopped he’ll bring this country to its knees.

  5. Kerry Davies

    Bonkers! The Brecon and Radnor (wrecking and sadness) has two job ads. Hereforshire Times is advertising part-time work in Bristol. There, done his/her Jobsearch for the next fortnight.
    UJ had two nursing posts in Surrey last week, two in the entire UK. They were advertising for barstaff at £5000 a month for a hotel that knew nothing about it and wanted applicants to send personal details plus passport photos to an address in Thailand!
    Oh, and some registered employer is looking for a “Gay Princess”. One prank “applicant” searched for a job as a “monkey juggler” and Monster urged them to apply for the post of Nuclear Monitor Engineer??????

  6. Ephemerid

    There is, as yet, no mandatory requirement for claimants to join UJM nor do they have to allow DWP access to their GG/UJM accounts.

    The PCS have had complaints from JC members who have been told by their managers that they must make people sign up – BANES is a trial area, and the JCs there are issuing forms for people to complete which look very official but actually aren’t. Some staff are concerned that they are “advising” illegally.

    johnnyvoid has links for all this, and a contributor there has a list of all the people/institutions DWP can share data with if you allow them access.

    If you do sign up and allow access, anyone – JC advisers, DWP decision makers, employers (real or scam), and Work Programme providers can have a look.
    All of those people can flag up jobs (however unsuitable) for you to apply for.
    If you don’t, you might face sanction.

    The drop-down menu where you explain why you haven’t applied for the job offers only one option which is not open to sanction – only if you have already applied for that job will your reason be unquestionable.
    All the others could be interpreted as unwillingness of some ilk.

    UJM has been scammed by faux-employers already.

    You too could be a gay princess at spamco – or an Elimination specialist at MI6, just apply for job NO.007.

    Within days, UJM had been breached by people pretending to be offering work – all you need is a verifiable phone number.

    I have a GG/UJM account as Mrs. DoobieDoobie Doo at fishand chips.com
    I could offer someone a job tomorrow, and they’d be sanctioned if they didn’t apply for it.

  7. cruddasparkrecordsFranko

    Two points here. First, it would be ill-advised for your friend to move to a larger place because in April the ‘bedroom tax’ will mean he’ll have to pay out around an extra £10 per week for the extra room (and that’s before we even consider the cost of moving in the first place) Secondly, I believe what may well be happening here, which I have heard many tales of, is advisers get a bonus for getting clients to go self employed, moving them on to WTCs for JSA. All well and good in theory but IDS is now attacking people who receive WTCs but whose businesses don’t make a profit. I’m not sure how this will be implemented because as a small business owner myself I have been told time and again that most businesses should not expect to turn a profit within the first 3 years and in these times of recession and poverty nearly all sectors are struggling to survive. The ‘beauty’ of these governments agencies illegal behaviour is that they can and will get away with because the people effected have no means to take them to court and even if by some miracle their cases were taken to court it would be an individual quango on trial which the government would then denounce and deny all responsibility.

  8. Bellatrixa

    Regarding the legitimacy of some companies who advertise through the Jobcentre…
    Back in 2009 when I was still able to work and on JSA, I applied for a job with a company called SRM (now SMS) Marketing. They had an office in my city and at the time I was trying to move away from retail based jobs and into something more administrative. From how the job was pitched, it sounded as if that was what it was. So, I went along to my interview in a very sparcely furnished office. Fair enough, I thought, they’re taking on a lot of new staff and they’re probably just starting up. I passed my stage 1 interview easily, asked questions about salary, was told I would be GUARANTEED a basic wage of £800 a month and to come back for stage 2 of the interview the next day.
    Stage 2 of the interview was where the true nature of the job was revealed. Instead of devising advertising campaigns as the job was claiming, it actually involved door knocking. I wasn’t going to be paid a basic wage, it was entirely commission based on my sales. As someone who has had issues with their back and knees for many years, obviously walking around on cold, wet streets for 10 hours a day was not suitable work for me. Half way through my day of shadowing one of their “employees”, I started to develop serious back pains and was told that we couldn’t stop as we had a quota of houses to canvas by 8pm. I had to go through the humiliation of asking 2 people if I could use their bathrooms as well as running in and out of a pub to use their facilities. I was also informed during the course of the day that I would be responsible for my own taxes as I would actually be self employed and that they were just supplying the customers. They wouldn’t give any allowance for travel and I’m sure you can appreciate how awkward that can be when coming off JSA, especially coupled with the fact that your earnings were directly linked to your sales; needing time off sick would leave you destitute. Everyone who ‘worked’ there gave off the distinct attitude of being brainwashed.
    When I got home that night, I did some research on this company and found many people had been similarly scammed and that the company itself was far from reputable with their website being incredibly substandard for a supposed multi million pound company. Needless to say I didn’t return after that and I did speak to my advisor at the Jobcentre regarding what had happened and he told me that such companies are perfectly legal (!) although he would pass the information on to his superiors. I’m not sure if any action was taken against them in regards to their false advertising via the Jobcentre, but I find it amusing that they changed their name not long after, although they do still advertise their ‘vacancies’ there. I also refuse to have anything to do with the Red Cross or Talk Talk as they subcontract these companies to get their sign ups and donations, giving them a cut of what the consumer pays. When I return to the job market, should my advisor try to coerce me into taking one of those jobs again, I will be telling him to shove it and should I be sanctioned for doing so, I will appeal.

  9. Stephen Frost

    Giving someone advise and forcing them to take the advice are entirely different things. There’s nothing wrong with them saying he’d be better off if he did move, but that’s not them saying he has to.

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