Abide by employment law when offering internships

Whilst it is claimed that things are tough at the top, they cannot be claimed to be too cushy at the bottom either for many young graduates at the bottom of the career ladder undertaking unpaid internships. Such opportunities, offered by a variety of organisations, have come to be perceived as a necessary evil by graduates coming out university with uncertain job prospects amidst the ongoing economic turmoil that has seen graduate openings substantially dwindle. Under pressure to obtain employment relative to their studies, numerous university leavers are often prepared to provide unpaid labour to businesses in order to start accumulating the badly needed work experience they lack. However, in December 2011 noises were made by the Government indicating its awareness of potential breaches of employment law by businesses failing to offer fair remuneration for internships.

As dictated by current employment law, adults of 21 years and above must be paid at least the minimum wage rate of £6.08 per hour if the work entails duties that exceed staff shadowing. Unpaid internships, for which the fashion industry is particularly notorious, continue to be the topic of fiery debate in employment law and human resources circles. They are accused of elitism, as they are often unfeasible for graduates whose parents are unable to provide significant financial support. Besides accusations of discrimination, unpaid internships are also condemned for simply using the young people who accept them, as there are often few job opportunities when internships are completed.

At NorthgateArinso, we specialise in the provision of employment law and human resources services to businesses of many sizes and across many sectors. We offer assistance and practical guidance to organisations that employ apprentices, interns and minimum wage employees, ensuring they are kept updated with changes in employment law and remunerate both temporary and permanent staff appropriately.