Today's rulings in the Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson cases should mean the end of working without pay, according to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union.
The Union said it welcomed the Court of Appeal judgement and agreed Ms Reilly was unlawfully forced to work for no wages.
In his ruling, Lord Justice Pill said the Poundland work scheme case raised a question of "statutory construction".
He said the challenge was to the lawfulness of the 2011 Government regulations made by Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, under sections of the Jobseekers Act 1995.
The judge said he was "unable to conclude that the statutory requirement for the regulations to make provision" for back-to-work schemes "of a prescribed description" had been met.
He ruled: "The statutory requirement is that the prescribed description is in the regulation."
Declaring the regulations unlawful, the judge said they must be quashed since their central purpose was to impose "requirements" on jobseeker allowance claimants and sanctions for failing to comply.
Today's Court of Appeal ruling that it is unlawful to be made to work for free demonstrates there is a "big hole" in the Government's work scheme programmes, according to the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This blows a big hole through the Government's workfare policies. Of course voluntary work experience can help the jobless, and it is right to expect the unemployed to seek work.
“But it is pointless to force people to work for no pay in jobs that do nothing to help them while putting others at risk of unemployment.
"This policy is about blaming the jobless, not helping them. Ministers should now abandon this misguided approach, and instead guarantee real jobs for the long-term unemployed, especially the young.”
The Court of Appeal ruled today that the regulations under which most of the Government's back-to-work schemes were created are unlawful.
Sector-based work academies (SBWA) were introduced in 2011 and form part of a larger government initiative called ‘Get Britain Working’.
Here's a guide to what the scheme offers:
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) scheme is one of the measures to help those who are ready for work and receiving benefits to secure employment.
- The programme is for recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.
- The scheme is a voluntary programme for recipients, however once a claimant has accepted a place attendance becomes mandatory.
- Benefit sanctions could be imposed if claimants fail to start or fail to comply with the terms of their SBWA.
- A SBWA can last up to six weeks and consists of pre-employment training, a work experience placement and a guaranteed job interview.
Solicitor Tessa Gregory, who represented Cait Reilly and 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver Jamieson Wilson, said today's ruling reveals "a lack of transparency" by the Department for Work and Pensions in implementing mandatory work schemes.
The Court of Appeal's unanimous decision against discount store Poundland is a "huge setback for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), whose flagship reforms have been beset with problems since their inception", according to Public Interest Lawyers.
The lawyers, who represented Cait Reilly and 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver Jamieson Wilson, said that "until new regulations are enacted with proper parliamentary approval, nobody can be compelled to participate on the schemes".