NUS campaign against unpaid intern “hypocrisy”
The NUS have begun an internet campaign against unpaid internships. They are calling for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg ‘to keep MPs in order’ following adverts for over 260 unpaid internships since the election.
Dannie Grufferty, the NUS Vice President, commented that Clegg should “demonstrate his commitment to social mobility” and enforce minimum wage legislation within his own party following the Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister advertising unpaid internships.
In spring 2011, Nick Clegg condemned the culture of unpaid internships. He claimed valuable internships in difficult economic times were favouring those who could afford to work for free.
However, since the general election, over 260 unpaid internships have been advertised through the Commons website, Work for MP (W4MP).
Grufferty labelled this recruitment process by MPs as “rank hypocrisy” calling for all members of political parties to take the “moral lead” in ensuring a minimum wage for all interns.
The campaign follows warnings issued by HM Revenue and Customs to 102 fashion companies in December over unpaid internships, a move supported by Nick Clegg.
The NUS have joined the Trades Union Congress, InternAware, Interns Anonymous and Graduate Fog with the aim to step up the pressure on MPs, university careers services and recruitment agencies that advertise or offer unpaid internships.
It appears, however, that there is a fine line between a worker and a volunteer.
Most interns, according to government legal advice, are likely to be workers and therefore entitled to a minimum wage, a view shared by online careers advice centre Target Jobs. However work situations where the benefits are wholly to the intern were “likely to be exempt”.