Argos and Superdrug are to meet with government next week to discuss their involvement in the controversial Get Britain Working scheme.
The retailer, along with high street healthy and beauty retailer Superdrug, will meet with the Department for Work and Pensions next week to ensure the scheme is voluntary and that jobseekers would no longer fear having their benefits removed if they pulled out of placements after the first week.
Tesco yesterday called for the Department of Work and Pensions to remove the risk of losing benefits that currently follows the four-week placement.
It said it will honour the 1500 places it is yet to allocate to young people as part of the voluntary Work Experience programme which is part of the wider Get Britain Working scheme.
Tesco has also launched an alternate scheme offering a four-week placement, with a guaranteed permanent job at the end of it, provided they complete the placement satisfactorily under which they would forfeit their benefits.
Campaigners forced Tesco’s store at Portcullis House, Westminster to close on Saturday amid an angry demonstration.
The Arcardia Group said it would be terminating the pilot scheme at its Bhs stores at the end of the month. Maplin and Matalan suspended their involvement in the scheme this week while Sainsbury’s, TK Maxx and Waterstone’s had already pulled out.
A spokesman for Argos said: “We have a meeting with the mInister next week to iron out the challenges, but see the scheme – on a voluntary basis – being a valuable opportunity for people currently looking for work.
“The challenges from the dissenters seem to be around the scheme being voluntary - we support their view, and the ‘pay’ being equal to those they are working alongside. This seems a reasonable request which we aim to discuss with the powers that be.”
A Superdrug spokesman said: “We take our responsibilities as an employer very seriously. We are supportive of any initiative which is voluntary and where candidates do not lose their benefits if they choose not to participate, and are working closely with ministers to clarify the situation.
“Until then we will not be taking on any new work experience placements under this scheme.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed the scheme. He told the BBC: “I think anyone who wants to condemn a scheme that helps people into work at a time of high employment really needs to think hard about their priorities. It is not slave labour. It is not compulsory. It is entirely voluntary.”
A DWP spokesman said: “Out of 34,000 people who have been through the Work Experience scheme just over 200 people have failed to complete the scheme and been sanctioned.”