Interns who turn up every day to work are likely to be classed as workers and should be paid the national minimum wage and paid annual leave. Many employers may not be aware of this or may be relying on the mistaken belief that the individual is not a worker but a volunteer.
Sectors such as media, performing arts and professional services regularly use interns as a means to access talent and to help individuals gain experience and develop their skills.
There are reported to be 70,000 internships offered each year and the number of unpaid internships is unknown. Classifying the status of individuals is complex and currently under consultation as part of Taylor Review.
By way of an immediate clamp down, over the last 3 months, HMRC has issued guidance and warning letters to confirm when companies are required to pay the national minimum wage. The methods for reporting unpaid internships and penalties are also set to be reviewed in the future.
If you are an intern or a company using interns it would be best to review the arrangements now.