I don’t see a penny of it

I am 23 years old, graduated two years ago and am currently on my second internship. I do a full 42.5 hour week for a public affairs organisation, and I pretty much get given anything that’s going spare….in short I’m completely disillusioned with the political scene.

I am proud that we have a minimum wage in this country, however a lot of companies bypass the law by offering “internships” which amount to unpaid full time work. I am doing this internship in a desperate attempt to get some paid work. I am in a very bad financial situation because of it, and I’m unsure how I will pay my rent and other bills at the end of next month. Something seems seriously wrong about this, I have a degree yet I’m only good enough to work for free? Where else in the world would refined educated knowledge go for free? 

The company I currently work for clearly need the labour, they’re just not prepared to pay for it. The work that I do for free is sent to a paying client and I don’t see a penny of it. I don’t see how this can be legal and I don’t understand why no one has done anything to rectify it. In light of this could someone please provide an answer to the following questions:

Is the concept of an “internship” legal?

If not, can I claim any money from my employer?

Will anyone adhere to or enforce this country’s minimum wage rules and stop this blatant exploitation of young labour?

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1 Response to “I don’t see a penny of it”


  1. 1 Mark Watson 08/04/2009 at 7:04 am

    Hi,

    To answer your question, internships can be unpaid but only under very specific circumstances. Work experience is an exception to the minimum wage regulations where it involves a full time student doing the placement as part of their course. If that does not apply to you then you could be unpaid as a “volunteer” if this organisation is not giving you work they expect you to do or times they expect you to attend ie that you are free to come and go as you like and do whatever work you choose to do.

    If neither of those apply then you may well be due the minimum wage. If you have been “interning” for this organisation for a month you are owed around £1000. And if you would like any help on how to go about claiming that money or any general advice on the subject then please feel free to drop me an email (derrywatson@gmail.com), I have helped a number of people make claims like this and am always keen to help more; it is a disgraceful state of affairs that people like you are being deprived of their legal rights – and cash!


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