Fashion retailer Matalan has suspended its involvement in a government-backed work experience scheme following the backlash experienced by Tesco.

The Get Britain Working scheme, which requires jobseekers to complete up to 30 hours a week unpaid work experience, has been criticised as exploiting those on benefits.  

Matalan said in a blog on its website that “as a result of negative speculation, Matalan has paused the programme in order to conduct a review related to the terms of these work placements and will not be employing any additional resource in the meantime until the review is concluded”.

Police were called to a Tesco Express at Portcullis House, opposite the Houses of Parliament, on Friday as protesters of the scheme forced the store’s closure.

The protest came after an advert was published on the Jobseekers Plus website for an unpaid night-shift worker at a Tesco store as part of the scheme.

The advert caused a storm on social media sites Twitter and Facebook and quickly began trending as users vented their anger as the UK’s largest private sector employer appeared to be advertising a job with no pay. Tesco said an IT error by Jobseekers Plus had caused the ad to be published and explained it was part of the Government’s Sector Based Work Academies programme which is linked to payment of benefits.

Discounter 99p Stores and electricals retailer Maplin has also withdrawn from the scheme following the negative publicity. Sainsbury’s,Waterstones and TK Maxx have also expressed their opposition to the initiative.