UK interns still being exploited


Four in ten interns still aren’t receiving the minimum wage, according to research released today by, which questioned over 200 young people who have completed an internship in the past 12 months. The findings show that over a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents only received financial support to cover expenses during their placement, while 14 per cent did not receive any payment at all for their efforts. With employment regulations stating that working interns should be paid at least the minimum wage, the study suggests that many employers could be breaking the law. When questioning employers, the Monster study found that more than a fifth (22 per cent) of those who employ interns admit to paying them less than the minimum wage, despite the fact that the majority (84 per cent) claim to understand the law regarding this issue. The research comes just months after HM Revenue and Customs launched an inquiry to investigate 100 companies believed to be breaking the law through their use of unpaid interns.

Andrew Sumner, Monster Managing Director, UK & Ireland, says: “A healthy future economy relies on the investment businesses make in young people today. In such a tough economy, it is simply not acceptable that there are still UK companies making interns work for free. Young people from all backgrounds should have access to the valuable opportunities offered by internships, but the truth is that swathes of the population simply can’t afford to work for nothing. There’s clearly more work to be done to ensure interns are not exploited.”

However, it is not all bad news and there is evidence that many employers are running effective and beneficial internship programmes.

The research reveals that almost two thirds (64 per cent) of interns are given a structured work plan with 71 per cent receiving formal training. In addition, 86 per cent of interns say they have gained skills that will genuinely help them with their career and more than nine in ten (92 per cent) say their internship was challenging and met their expectations. From the employer perspective, 87 per cent of those questioned believe that interns make a positive impact to overall business and almost all respondents (98 per cent) say that they provide interns with valuable skills for their career. Almost three quarters (74 per cent) take on interns with a view to hiring them permanently.

Mr Sumner continues: “When run well, internships can be hugely beneficial for all involved providing young people with valuable skills and experience, while giving employers access to fresh, young brains and potential workers for the future. To make the most of them, employers should treat interns like any other employee, following a rigorous recruitment process and thoroughly planning their time at the company.”

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