11 November 2013 by Alexandra Jones
New guidance launched today will provide support to interns uncertain of their pay rights.
The Government Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), in partnership with Channel 4’s in-house intern and apprenticeship scheme (4Talent), has released new videos and posters designed to explain to people leaving education what their rights are.
The guidance will focus on being paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW), where to go for more information and what individuals can do if they feel they are being exploited. Social media will also be used to boost the information.
HMRC, which enforces NMW on behalf of BIS, will also be writing to 200 intern-employing employers who offer unpaid work to alert them to a series of targeted checks to employers are paying all of their workers the correct NMW rate.
Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said: ‘Not paying the National Minimum Wage is illegal and if an employer breaks the law, government will take tough action. Already this year HMRC has issued penalties to 466 employers. Anyone considered a worker under the law should be paid at least the minimum wage, whether they are an intern, or someone on work experience.
‘Anyone who feels they are being exploited should contact the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368. Any intern calling that number will be prioritised by HMRC.
‘We will continue to work closely with HMRC to clampdown on rogue employers. The targeted letters being sent to employers advertising internships today is just one example of this work. By raising awareness of NMW rates and the law we will make sure people play by the rules and treat their workers fairly.’
HMRC's Assistant Director of National Minimum Wage Michelle Wyer added: ‘Any employer not playing by the NMW rules needs to put things right now. Those that don't can expect a visit from HMRC - which could result in a penalty, payment of arrears, being publicly named and shamed by BIS or a prosecution.’