The pole or the dole?


Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said earlier this week that employers in the adult entertainment industry will no longer be permitted to use job centres to search for workers to fill posts involving “direct sexual stimulation.” According to The Telegraph, the restriction will apply to a broad variety of professions that will include strippers and topless female bar attendants. Mr Grayling stated that he issued the ban in order to protect the unemployed from “exploitation.” Mr Grayling’s decision is an unfortunate instance of legislated morality that will harm, not help, the unemployed.

Placing a job advertisement does not force anyone to do anything; a job advertisement merely relays to job seekers information about the different types of work for which people are willing to pay. If a person finds such work to be exploitative, as Mr Grayling does, they will simply not take the job. But if the person finds it to their advantage to be a stripper or topless bar attendant, the advertisement simply makes them, and their potential employer, better off by facilitating the transaction. The new regulation will merely make it less likely that such people find gainful employment in a timely fashion.

Though denying such employers from using job centres is admittedly quite different from an outright prohibition of such work, Mr Grayling’s decision is nevertheless a worrisome intervention. Government job centres essentially subsidise the distribution of job-related information in a community. All members of society, including owners of strip clubs and topless bars, pay for this subsidy. The prohibition on advertising certain types of jobs ensures that the subsidy is directed to certain types of work that Mr Grayling finds to be acceptable, and denied to other types of work that he personally finds to be “exploitative.” Not everyone agrees with Mr Grayling’s assertion that strippers and topless bar maids are exploited, and the ban consequently represents the arbitrary imposition of Mr Grayling’s personal preferences upon job seekers.

As long as an employer is looking for an employee to fill a legal job, he or she should be permitted to use government-funded job centres. Instead of helping workers, the ban will prolong the duration of unemployment for some merely to score points with voters who happen to agree with Mr Grayling’s concept of morality.