Subsidised temporary employment is not a bad way of dealing with unemployment. The advocates of Modern Monetary Theory tend to call this form of employment “Job Guarantee” (JG).
The story in brief is thus. A graduate already doing volunteer work for a museum was told she’d have to work instead in a shop - stacking shelves and sweeping floors. (h/t to Mark Wadsworth)
The graduate didn’t like the shelf stacking assignment, so she’s suing the government department that allocated her to it.
What the graduate has going for her (seems to me) is that she was ALREADY doing something useful. So why the need to re-allocate her?
On the other hand, there is much to be said for private sector JG: the empirical evidence is that those who do private sector JG have more successful subsequent employment histories than those doing public sector JG. See here.
Plus there is a good argument for not allowing JG employees to stay with a given employer for too long: it tempts employers into abusing the system - that is employing people who are in reality normal productive employees on a subsidised basis. (For more on this, see under heading “11. Fraud and other rules governing TES” here.)
The graduate complained she was being forced to do “futile, unpaid labour”. Invalid argument: she was doing unpaid labour anyway!!!!! As to whether the shop work was “futile”, she may have thought that as a graduate, stacking shelves was beneath her dignity, but other than that, the work was certainly not futile: she was doing something that paying customers actually want – helping run a shop that supplies goods that ordinary people want. Moreover, the shop concerned (Poundland) caters for the less well off – not millionaires.
So my judgement is thus. If Ms Reilly has only been in the museum job for two or three weeks, have that job registered as an official JG job, and let her stay there for two or three months. On the other hand if she’s already been in the museum job for two or three months, she’ll have gained some valuable “museum experience”, and it’s time for to move on and see something of the less effete, brutal world of commerce.
Stop press: Cait Reilly puts her side of the storey.