Earlier in November Jo Swinson, the Employment Relations Minister, took part in a Napier University event in order to help bring attention to students receiving fair pay when they took part in internships. Since then HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) has created a system of targets that are made up of employers they suspect to be paying employees poorly. During this year alone over 450 employers have received fines for poor payments and last year about 700 were found guilty of paying underneath of the minimum wage.
Swinson stated during the event that students that are taking part in an internship that they are receiving university credits for or as a volunteer are not entitled to the minimum wage, but in positions where students are treated like employees then pay should be present. She described this scenario as one where students are expected to be at work at a certain time and then cannot leave until another time comes. She added that when workers are expected to follow up with job related responsibilities while at an internship then they qualify as a worker and should be paid appropriately.
The UK crackdown on internships came shortly after Condé Nast the US media company decided to put an end to its internship programme because claims came out from former interns that they were only being paid one US dollar per hour even though they were working 14 hour days on a regular basis. The news is unfortunate for many students since the large company did offer a great deal of internships to many students.
Other lawsuits have found similar situations existed with companies such as Harper’s Bazaar and Fox Searchlight Pictures showing that students are no longer willing to give their time away and should be paid for their efforts just like any other employee.