Workfare Law and Legal Definition
Workfare is a system of welfare in which unemployed adults are required to earn their public welfare benefit by performing public service jobs provided by the government agency. Workfare is a substitute model to conventional social welfare systems. The main objective of workfare is to generate a net contribution to society from welfare recipients. The term workfare was first introduced by civil rights leader James Charles.
Generally, there are two main types of workfare:
those that encourage direct employment to get individuals off the welfare roll directly into the workforce; and
those that are intended to increase human capital by providing training and education to those currently in the welfare system.
Workfare seeks to get unemployed people into paid work, to reduce or eliminate welfare payments to those put into paid work, and to create an income that generates taxes. Some workfare systems also target to derive contribution from welfare recipients by more direct means. Consequently, these systems obligate unemployed people to undertake work that is beneficial to their community. The principle behind workfare programs are:
that the taxpayers may feel that they get more value for their welfare dollar; and
that by putting unemployed people into a workplace-like environment, these programs attempts to address the argument that one of the biggest barriers to employment for the long-term unemployed is their lack of recent workforce experience.
In Coker v. City of Lewiston, 1998 ME 93 (Me. 1998), the court observed that “Although it constitutes neither employment nor direct consideration for the benefits provided, workfare has a value that must be taken into account in determining both the amount of work that may be required of the recipient and the amount of reimbursement to which the municipality may be entitled.