Sighs of despair were palpable in the Elite Business office this morning as it emerged that 100 companies have been accused of using unpaid interns in paid roles.
Employment minister Jo Swinson has handed the names of the companies to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and is urging a thorough investigation.
Readers may remember our piece last November on the potential value of interns to your business, thus making the cloud that today’s news has cast even more unwelcome.
In a letter to the campaign group Intern Aware, Swinson wrote: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Intern Aware for their help and continued 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 identify sectors where there is a higher likelihood of non-compliance.”
Whilst the identities of the companies have not yet been revealed, one high profile retailer recently came under fire for taking on a significant amount of work experience staff at one of its outlets, but insisted they did not replace paid workers.
“The law on the National Minimum Wage is clear,” added Swinson. “If somebody on a work experience placement or internship is a worker under NMW legislation, then they are entitled to the minimum wage.
“Internships can be a valuable way of helping young people get into work and realise their ambitions. Anyone who feels they are being exploited should contact the Pay and Work Rights Helpline. Their call will be fast-tracked to HMRC who actively investigate any claims of NMW abuse.”
Needless to say, we hope that any companies responsible for this unlawful and immoral business practice are dealt with accordingly.