More Focus on a Fair Internship System


The government has recently announced that it is going to begin providing more help and information to interns, in order to ensure they are paid for the work they do.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has promised to clamp down on unfair practices from employers, and has already released guidance for young people in an on-going effort to protect their right to fair pay. Revenue and Customs has made further promises to target 200 employers advertising for interns to make certain they are paying the correct minimum wage. HMRC, which regulates minimum wage, will contact 200 employers who have recently advertised for interns and unpaid work, in advance of investigations which officials plan to make.

This move is partly influenced by the recent scandal at London Fashion Week, in which it was revealed that two employers were not paying minimum wage. Enforcement action was taken and the unpaid wages were repaid to both workers involved.

For many university students, the idea of leaving education and going straight into employment can be incredibly daunting. Internships provide a necessary safety net and an easier route into the intimidating world of work. As more and more industries become increasingly dominated by internships, this move will help to set in place an official set of rules about how interns are paid. As Jo Swinson, the employment relations minister has stated: “Leaving education and getting a job for the first time can be daunting for any young person. Internships can provide an important first step and are often a valuable way of helping young people start work… Not paying the national minimum wage is illegal and if an employer breaks the law, government will take tough action.”

A spokesperson for Unite, a union which has long campaigned for fair wages for interns, has expressed that he was “pleased the taxman is taking action on this issue.” Unite has also given evidence to the Low Pay Commission, claiming that over a third of the UK’s top fifty charity employers are signing up unpaid interns. With the government as well as independent unions cracking down, students can remain hopeful that they will get what they deserve.


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