Government guidance advises interns should be paid National Minimum Wage

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The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has produced guidance with greater clarity for businesses that offer work experience, placements and internships, advising these people should be paid National Minimum Wage

The updated guidance from Business Link and DirectGov includes advice on the payment of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for work experience staff and interns, and clarifies when someone is entitled to this payment.

The guidance also includes a new worker checklist for employers and examples of case studies, which aims to make sure that those who are entitled to the NMW receive it.

Entitlement to the NMW does not depend on a job title but on whether the arrangement they have with an organisation makes them a worker for NMW purposes. Where an individual is a worker - and no exemption applies – then they must be paid at least the NMW.

Employment relations minister Edward Davey said: “Internships and work experience of all forms offer an excellent opportunity in helping to bridge the gap between education and the workplace. And for businesses it allows them access to a wide talent pool of some of our best and brightest who didn’t take the traditional route into a job.

“Fairness though is absolutely paramount with all placements. When a worker is entitled to the minimum wage, they should be paid it and we will continue to enforce the law. Today’s publication will help clarify this for employers and will also make sure that all interns and those on work experience placements have a better understanding of their entitlement to the minimum wage.”

In a Written Ministerial Statement to the Houses of Parliament, Edward Davey also published the Government's evidence to the Low Pay Commission for their 2012 NMW. The Low Pay Commission will report back in early 2012 with their findings and their recommendations for the NMW ratings.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The growing misuse of interns is becoming one of the biggest abuses of the minimum wage. It's good to see the government finally taking this issue seriously, and it's essential that today's guidance is used by young people to ensure that they get paid what they are due.

“But guidance alone won't end this abuse and it needs to be backed up with tougher enforcement of the minimum wage.”

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