Not paying your interns? The taxman's on your case

The debate about unpaid work experience intensified on Friday, after it was revealed that the names of 100 companies running such schemes have been passed to HMRC to be investigated.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The employment minister, Jo Swinson, obtained the list from Intern Aware, a campaign group that fights against unpaid work experience. The 100 companies on it are accused of illegally ‘employing’ people in what would otherwise be paid roles, for nothing.

In a letter to the campaign group, Swinson said: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank Intern Aware for their help and continues support on this issue. The list of employers that you provided will be treated as intelligence by HMRC. 

‘Intelligence forms part of the risk process by helping to indentify sectors where there is a high likelihood of non-compliance.’

So where do employers stand legally? Essentially, if you fill a full-time position (to which minimum wage rules would normally apply) with an intern, then you’re out of line. 

HMRC hasn’t commented on the story, but the Department for Business said: ‘The law on the National Minimum Wage is clear. If somebody on a work experience placement or internship is a worker under NMW legislation, then they are entitled to the minimum wage.’

There is of course the Pay and Work Rights Helpline that people who feel exploited can call, but the wider culture of unpaid work seems to be propagating increasingly widely.

If you’ve got any ‘full timers’ working for you without pay at the moment, HMRC could be onto you and you may be slapped with a fine…

Tags:
Enterprise

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

I ran Iceland's central bank in 2009. Here's what I learned about crisis ...

And you thought your turnaround was tricky.

"It's easy to write a cheque you don't have to cash for 30 ...

But BP's new CEO has staked his legacy on going green.

AI opens up an ethical minefield for businesses

There will inevitably be unintended consequences from blindly adopting new technology.

The strange curse of No 11 Downing Street

As Sajid Javid has just discovered, “chancellors come and go… the Treasury endures forever”.

Men are better at self-promotion than women

Research shows women under-rate their performance even when they have an objective measure of how...

When doing the right thing gets you in trouble

Concern with appearances can distort behaviour, as this research shows.