§ Mrs. Helen Jackson
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many jobs in the personal services industry, with special reference to male escort agencies, are classed as vacancies at jobcentres; and if she will break down the information by region; 
(2) into what classification the Employment Service places jobs in the personal services industry, with special reference to jobs in male escort agencies and editing adult magazines; 
(3) what guidelines are issued to jobcentre staff in respect of training advice on personal safety to female jobseekers who have been recommended to apply for jobs in the personal services industry, with special reference to work for escort agencies and adult magazines; 
(4) if a jobseeker is entitled to refuse to attend an interview for work in the personal services industry without putting their benefit at risk. 
§ Mr. Forth
Responsibility for the subject of the questions has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.630W
Letter from M. E. G. Fogden to Mrs. Helen Jackson dated 7 November 1996:The Secretary of State for Education and Employment has asked me to write to you direct about your questions of 4 November concerning vacancies in the personal services industry advertised in Jobcentres. This falls within my responsibility as Chief Executive of the Employment Service.The information you requested on the number of jobs in the personal services industry which are classed as vacancies is not available and the Employment Service does not collect specific information on the number of vacancies with male escort agencies.The Employment Service does not classify vacancies as being in the personal services industry. All vacancies are classed according to the occupation.All Jobcentres have guidance which gives points to check when considering the suitability of vacancies to ensure jobseekers are not put at risk. Jobcentres seek as much information as possible about the job, its location, whether the duties or hours are different from those normally expected for the type of job and whether the arrangements for interview are outside normal working hours and away from the work premises. For vacancies in the personal services sector special regard is paid to these factors.In addition there is a leaflet available to jobseekers in all Jobcentres titled "Be Alert" which describes the steps to take to ensure personal safety when seeking work from an employer.Guidance issued to Jobcentres state that if they are notified of vacancies which require models, offer employment in sauna baths, massage parlours, escort and kissogram agencies, or other personal/telephone services special regard should be paid to the reputation of the employer. Details are sought of establishment and conditions of training and employment, whether the hours of work or the location or interview arrangements give cause for concern and whether there is any indication of a lack of professional standards. Jobcentres are advised that where any concerns arise around the above issues that such vacancies should he treated with caution and in any cases of doubt they should refuse to handle the vacancies.The Jobseeker's Act provides that jobseekers may be sanctioned for refusing or failing to apply for, or refusing or failing to accept a job notified to them by an officer of the Employment Service. Guidance to people in local offices emphasises that any vacancies offered to the jobseeker must be those which they are table to undertake. It would not be in either the jobseeker's or the employer's interests to submit jobseekers to vacancies for which they were unsuitable.Jobseekers are told at the time they are made aware of a suitable vacancy that refusal or failure to apply for the job, or subsequent non-acceptance of the job offered, may result in loss of Jobseeker's Allowance. This ensures that the jobseeker can make their decision in the full knowledge of the consequences.If the jobseeker subsequently refuses to apply for, or accept, a suitable job the case will be sent to an independent adjudication officer to determine whether the jobseeker had good cause for their refusal. The adjudication officer will examine the suitability of the job offered and the jobseekers reasons for refusal. In addition where the jobseeker refused the vacancy due to any sincerely held religious or conscientious objection this would constitute good cause.I hope this is helpful in clarifying the position.