Interns in the Election, Nick Clegg’s position..


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another website discussing the effect of unpaid internships….

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When its “OK”….?

Just in time for the summer season, the Department of Labor (DOL) has rolled out a new set of standards on the few occasions when it’s OK to offer unpaid internships.

According to the DOL, here are six occasions where a company can use unpaid employees:

1. The internship is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment – even though it includes operations of the employer’s facilities.

2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.

3. The intern doesn’t displace regular employees – he or she works under their supervision.

4. The employer receives no immediate advantage from the intern.

5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the internship.

6. Both the employer and the intern understand that the intern isn’t entitled to wages.

Note: These standards only apply to interns working for “for-profit” private sector companies.

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Is Free Fair?

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Adrian Shaughnessy, Twitter

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Unpaid jobs for creatives…

Almost half of media workers start with unpaid jobs, says training body

Entry into creative jobs still based on ‘who you know’ culture, says Skillset, urging pay for graduate internships

Almost half of with jobs in the creative media – 44% – did unpaid work to get into their industry, research issued by the training body Skillset has found.

Skillset said that entry into the sector still remains often informal and open to the “who you know” culture, rather than ensuring open opportunities for all.

In an effort to counteract this, it has issued today best practice guidelines and case studies about a range of schemes, with feedback from interns at a large selection of media organisations, from the BBC, which offers 1,000 work experience places year, to Global Radio, which has a commercial programming internship scheme. Animation company Framestore has internships for junior animators and Channel 4’s 4Talent schemes offers six paid three month internships.

Skillset said that media organisations should pay at least the minimum wage to anyone on a graduate internship, which should last no more than three to six months with working weeks of no more than 40 hours. Work experience should be limited to 160 hours and expenses should be reimbursed.

Clive Jones, chairman of Skillset, said: “We are seeking to make sure the best and brightest talent is given fair access.”

The work experience report was compiled by Skillset in collaboration with the Creative & Cultural Skills & Arts Council.

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Unpaid – Unfair?

One in three interns works for nothing, says TUC

Employers accused of breaking the law and exploiting young people desperate to find work in the recession

Richard Wachman, The Guardian, Friday 26 March 2010

Interns are often seen as free labour but if it does not just involve work shadowing it should qualify for payment, the TUC says. Photograph: RubberBall/Alamy

As many as one in three interns are working for nothing with employers exploiting young people who are desperate to get on the jobs ladder.

A report from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) says the number and range of internships in the UK have increased considerably in recent years, particularly in the recession, and interns are now a regular feature in many industries.

But it warns that many employers have sought to take advantage of graduates’ desperation to find work in the economic downturn and see interns as a useful source of free labour. Others may be unaware that non-payment of interns is a breach of the law and of national minimum wage rules.

The National Union of Journalists found that almost 80% of members undertaking work experience and who had their work published had received no fee. The broadcast union Bectu claims that unpaid work in film and TV is rife, and a third of the 6,000 internships advertised by employers on the government’s Graduate Talent Pool website are unpaid.

Key aspects of employment law governing the minimum wage, working time and paid holidays make clear that only strictly defined “volunteers” and “voluntary workers” are exempt from these rights, says the TUC. Any intern who is undertaking work-related tasks, with set hours and a duty to turn up and do the work, is probably defined in law as a “worker” and is therefore eligible for the minimum wage. The TUC believes any internship that does not just involve observation and work shadowing should qualify for payment.

As the use of internships becomes more widespread, the TUC is concerned that jobs in popular career destinations such as journalism, advertising, film, television and public relations are becoming the exclusive domain of middle-class people from affluent backgrounds. Only those young people whose parents have the means to support them – often for months on end – can afford to work for nothing.

The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “Whether they are unscrupulous or genuinely unaware of the rules, too many employers are ripping off talented young people by employing them in unpaid internships that are not only unfair but, in most cases, probably illegal.

“Internships can be a positive experience and offer a kick-start to a career that many young people value. But as more and more graduates are being forced to turn to internships in place of traditional entry-level jobs, we’re concerned that a growing number of interns are at risk of real exploitation.

“It is vital that we crack down on those internships that offer little but hard graft for no reward. Employers need to know that there’s no such thing as free labour.”

Alex Try, co-founder of Interns Anonymous, said: “Every day we are contacted by interns and ex-interns who have been treated terribly in the workplace. It’s high time interns knew their rights, so we wholeheartedly welcome this TUC initiative.”

The TUC is launching a new website,, that explains what rights interns should expect, allows them to share their experiences and explains the benefits of joining a union.

Case study: Jake

I’ve been working as an “intern” in a business organisation for the past three months. Technically, I should be getting some specific experience and in fairness I have been. The trouble is all the other stuff I’ve been asked to do. Like organise and book my boss’s holiday, book restaurants for his friends, find tickets for shows, go to the supermarket, squeeze fruit into juice for five hours for a cocktail party and so on.

My boss once made me go to the cash machine, and the most recent outrage was to ask me to track down a certain kind of foodstuff as a gift for some friends. This saga has started to haunt my waking and sleeping. I’m so stressed about it that I’m almost weeping in frustration. This is compounded by being sent texts about work at 9pm on a Sunday evening. I have a master’s from Durham and this is what I’m reduced to.

Like an idiot, or a masochist, I take it, partly because I’ve been brought up to be helpful and partly because I’m so desperate for a job now that I’d probably morris dance naked on the House of Commons roof if it meant someone would offer me one. I’m terrified that any refusal will lead to a terrible reference, so my boss can dangle the prospect of a permanent position at the end of this stint (which, incidentally, has no official end date, so I could be working for free forever or until I find another job), ensuring that I never refuse to do anything, no matter how absurd or mundane.

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