Posts Tagged 'NMW guidance'

BIS publishes new guidelines- let’s hope this pudding tastes good

So the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  The delicious pudding being the new guidelines regarding the payment of the national minimum wage published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) (I was about to type business, enterprise and regulatory reform, I miss the old names, I really do)

Of course we’re really pleased with these guidelines because they support the idea that NMW regulations should apply to all potential workers, including unpaid interns. The guidance is comprehensive and includes tests which employers can do themselves to work out when they should or shouldn’t be paying the NMW to their staff. NMW regulations and the definition of intern or worker are often characterised as confusing but we hope that these legal tests will provide some clarity to employers who are genuinely not sure whether they are obliged to pay their interns.

As the TUC has stated and as the evidence submitted to the Low Pay Commission this year has reinforced:

The growing misuse of interns is becoming one of the biggest abuses of the minimum wage.

And by consequence, the TUC adds,

It’s good to see the government finally taking this issue seriously, and it’s essential that today’s guidance is used by young people to ensure that they get paid what they are due.

So what’s the caveat? Guidelines and the law need to be both publicised and reinforced. So firstly, we’d like to promote these guidelines far and wide- but also see the government doing the same (we know there have been a lot of cuts to communications budgets but what’s the point of publishing guidelines if no one reads them?) Secondly, as the TUC has stated, rules mean nothing without the necessary reinforcement- so, for example, the Pay and Work rights helpline needs to be able to follow up complaints and persistent offenders need to be investigated.

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Can you fill me in?

OK so we haven’t published many posts recently but just like Greg Knight, we do work for you.  First of all I’d like to introduce you to some new additions to the Interns Anonymous TEAM, who will shortly appear on our ‘about’ page, if all goes to plan.

This is Joe, he is a maths teacher who used to be an intern and in his spare time (teachers don’t normally have spare time) he likes to read about contract law and National Minimum Wage legislation. One day he will rule the world through his extensive knowledge of all of employment law.

This is Kim, she is working in the Department of Health after having done some interning and also not being able to afford interning (and feeling angry about interning). Joe and Kim have come with us to meetings, generally helped strategise and frankly been crazily well informed. Hurrah! (p.s. I promise they aren’t unpaid interns…)

Second of all I’ll give you a short run down of the meetings we went to at BIS and Nick Clegg’s policy unit. At BIS we were discussing guidance for employers re: NMW legislation, so what should the government say to employers who are thinking about taking on an intern and wondering whether or not they should pay them? The civil servants we talked to were very receptive to our opinions but on the other hand budget restrictions and cuts to the NMW staff make it difficult to see how any impact is going to be made by the updated guidance. We’ll see.

At Nick Clegg’s (alas sans Clegg) we went to a ‘round table discussion’, except it was in a small airless room in the Cabinet Office around a rectangular table. This was very interesting and we were glad to be asked- there were all sorts there (unions, interny people, employers’ representatives) and encouragingly we all agreed on a lot of points. The slight elephant in the room (at least for me) was the disconnect between professed policy aims and the message from politicians. One example of this is the lack of political will regards changing the internship situation in Westminster (i.e. that most internships are unpaid and therefore the preserve of those from wealthy backgrounds)- a sense that it was impossible to urge MPs to get their own house in order- it’s these kinds of contradictions which make talking about internships frustrating a lot of the time.

In other news, Intern Aware  have been doing stirling work- this story about Lyn Brown  would be a classic if it wasn’t so depressing. When will they learn, the blighters!

Becky from Internocracy apparently trounced Inspiring Interns at a debate on the ethics of unpaid internships at the Frontline Club

And finally, here is an interesting article from an intern about, well, internships- and some recent controversies. Please keep writing in with your internship stories, good, bad and ugly and we’ll keep you filled in…


Interns Anonymous

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