Pret A Manger has performed a U-Turn over its plans to pay teenage work experience staff in sandwiches – BBC reports.
The popular coffee chain received online backlash, after launching their “Big Experience Week”, offering 500 UK teenagers work experience, as they extend efforts to hire larger numbers of English staff.
The firm had previously said it would struggle to staff its outlets following Brexit because just one in 50 candidates are British.
Yet, following social media criticism, the firm have changed their plans, and now claim that teenage work experience staff will be paid.
Pret’s CEO, Clive Schee, said: "Pret's work experience week is not about making sandwiches for free. We set it up so that 16-18-year-olds can shadow our teams and get a flavour of what working at Pret is like. We've seen how passionately people feel about the initiative, and in response I would like to confirm that we will pay all participants.”
A spokeswoman for the company claimed that the teenagers would not be working and would instead by shadowing team members.
Pret made headlines earlier this month when Andrea Wareham, Director of HR at the coffee chain, laid out concerns that the government wasn’t doing enough post-Brexit planning regarding low-skilled jobs that are often taken by immigrant workers.
Kevin Green, CEO of Recruitment and Employment Confederation at the Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee, argued that many UK nationals aren’t prepared for the hard nature of hospitality work.
He said: “These are hard jobs, potentially physically demanding. I’m not sure we prepare people very well. They are paid national living wage. We need to work on attitudes to work, that’s a challenge for employers.”