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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Jobcentre comes under 'friendly' fire
Jobcentre
The Jobcentre was "a little over-zealous"
A businessman has branded as "ridiculous" a refusal by a job centre to accept an advert asking for "friendly" staff.

Dominic Speakman hoped to use the Jobcentre Plus service to find a catering manager for the staff cafe at his travel agency.

But when a colleague phoned in to place the advert at the Bolton centre, she was told the wording was discriminatory.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions admitted the Jobcentre's reaction had been "over-zealous".

'Main qualification'

Mr Speakman, who runs Travel Counsellors in Bolton, said: "It's a very simple job for just a few hours a day.

"Applicants don't really need any qualifications as such.

"In fact, being friendly is probably the main qualification for the job.

"But we were told, 'It's discriminatory because some people may perceive that they are friendly even if you don't'."

Mr Speakman has now placed the advert without the offending word, and is waiting to see who responds.

Over the top

"It's just ridiculous that you can't use 'friendly' in an advert these days."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions, which runs the Jobcentre Plus service, admitted the veto might have been over the top.

"We've got to be very careful when we get adverts so we don't discriminate against anybody.

"But I think it's fair to say that somebody's been a little over-zealous."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Marshall
"In other words it didn't give grumpy people a fair crack of the whip"
Dominic Speakman, Travel Counsellors
"I nearly fell off my chair when they told me"

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13 Aug 98 | UK
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