By Angela Frewin
Hotels and restaurants could reject Government plans to offer the unemployed jobs in the industry because of legal difficulties, claims the British Hospitality Association (BHA).
The BHA fears that the threat of legal sanctions to deter abuse of the proposed Welfare to Work scheme could discourage companies from taking part.
Minister for Employment Alan Howarth has warned that firms will have to sign public undertakings not to sack existing staff and replace them with the young or long-term unemployed, subsidised at £60 or £75 a week each. To do so may result in accusations of fraud and breach of contract.
The BHA accepts the principle of guarding against "taking one person on while pushing someone else out the door", but fears employers could nevertheless be scared off if they felt there would be investigations every time an employee left.
Last week, tourism minister Tom Clarke confirmed that he and Chris Smith, minister for culture, media and sport, are to meet industry representatives shortly to discuss the Welfare to Work programme.
l Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites was one of the pioneers of the USA's Pathways to Independence Welfare to Work scheme. Since 1991, 700 have successfully come through this system, 500 in the past two years, and there should be another 800 by December 1998.
It costs $5,000 per person for a six-week training course, 50-60% funded by government.