HMRC have announced this week that they are writing to 200 businesses and threatening to ‘name and shame’ them for their reliance on unpaid interns.
It would be hard to disagree that short periods of work experience are a useful and relevant addition to the CVs of those seeking to get into the most competitive fields. Unfortunately some unscrupulous businesses have exploited the high-levels of unemployment amongst those under the age of 25 and have taken on interns for long periods without pay; effectively employing them as free labour. In a bid to tackle such exploitation HMRC intends to impose fines and expose the names of businesses guilty of such practices.
The key to being paid for the armies of interns working across the economy is to prove that they enjoy the status of workers.
When is an Intern not an Intern?
National Minimum Wage legislation entitles workers to be paid at a minimum level according to their age (£6.31 for those over 21). Interns wishing to bring minimum wage claims need to consider their employee status carefully.
In the event that an individual is able to prove that they should have been paid the national minimum wage then their employer will be liable to pay them back pay for the full amount. In addition, they may be subjected to a fine of £5,000 by HMRC.
If you have been working in an unpaid position for a long period and feel that you are a worker rather than receiving meaningful work experience then please contact us for free advice on how we might help on 0800 014 8727.