Pret A Manger has agreed to pay an hourly rate to teenagers in its work experience programme after reports it planned to pay them in sandwiches.
The chain said it was launching a week-long work experience programme for Brits aged 16-18 to address the issue that one in 50 of its job applicants are born in the UK.
Pret has since come under fire from The Guardian, which reported the workers would be offered free food, instead of being paid.
“Pret’s Work Experience Week is not about making sandwiches for free,” said Pret CEO Clive Schlee.
“We set it up so that 16 to 18-year-olds can shadow our teams and get a flavour for 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 Pret’s starting hourly rate and of course provide free food as well.”
In the wake of Brexit, Pret said the initiative would help Brits take the idea of a career in the hospitality industry seriously.
“Attracting British applicants is not exclusively a Pret problem, and is symptomatic of a wider cultural bias,” said Pret HR director Andrea Wareham.
“British schools and parents don’t always take careers in the hospitality industry seriously, but they really ought to.”