Supermarket giant Tesco offered today to pay youngsters on a Government work experience scheme amid continuing controversy over the programme.
One of the firm's supermarkets in central London was forced to close on Saturday after it was invaded by members of the Right to Work campaign who said they were angry at a job advert looking for permanent workers in exchange for expenses and Jobseeker's Allowance.
The group said it planned to hold protests tomorrow at a number of Tesco stores, including two in London and one in Kingston upon Thames.
Tesco announced that from now on any young person accepted for work experience with the company will be offered a choice of participating in the Government scheme, which protects their benefits for the duration of the four-week placement, or be paid by Tesco for the four-week placement, with a guaranteed permanent job at the end of it, provided they complete the placement satisfactorily.
Tesco has suggested to the Department of Work and Pensions that, to avoid any misunderstanding about the voluntary nature of the scheme, the risk of losing benefits should be removed.
Richard Brasher, chief executive of Tesco, said "We know it is difficult for young people to give up benefits for a short-term placement with no permanent job at the end of it.
"So this guarantee that a job will be available provided the placement is completed satisfactorily should be a major confidence boost for young people wanting to enter work on a permanent basis."
Tesco has committed 3,000 work placements under the Government's work experience scheme, with around half already delivered.
"We will offer the choice of paid work and the jobs guarantee to all of the remaining placements we will deliver under the scheme. Three hundred young people undertaking work experience with Tesco have already found work with us and we are confident that many more will through this approach," the company said.