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Cath Everett

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Interns need ‘training wage’ says CIPD

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The CIPD says all employers should be obliged to pay interns a guaranteed ‘Training Wage’ to prevent exploitation.
 

A policy paper entitled ‘Internships: To Pay or Not to Pay?’ published today by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) proposed that all interns regardless of their occupation or industry sector be paid £2.50 per hour – the current minimum rate paid to apprentices – to help reflect the contribution that they were likely to make to an organisation. Such a move would also promote social mobility by encouraging people from poorer backgrounds to apply, the body said.
 
In practice, it would mean that any advertised internship position would automatically trigger a legal obligation for employers to pay a minimum Training Wage for the duration of the scheme, which would be subject to enforcement action if such obligations were breached.
 
Tom Richmond, the CIPD’s skills advisor, explained that the continued existence of a major loophole in national minimum wage legislation had created a lot of confusion and concern around the issue of whether interns should be paid or not.
 
“We believe that the introduction of this Training Wage would reflect the contribution that interns make to their organisation, which is likely to be less than that of a fully-trained member of staff, at the same time as avoiding concerns over reductions in the number of internship opportunities that may result from all interns being paid the full minimum wage,” he added.
 
But a number of related issues would also need to be tackled at the same time such as what working rights that interns should be entitled to, he added. Such rights might include sick pay and regional pay variations to reflect different costs of living in certain parts of the country.
 
“Nevertheless, the creation of the Training Wage would represent a significant step towards ensuring that internships promote social mobility, provide young people with valuable experience and help tackle exploitation in the workplace. What’s more, organisations would still be able to recruit young talent at a reasonable rate during this difficult economic period and beyond,” Richmond said.
 
Other recommendations included the creation of a new code of best practice based on the CIPD’s own ‘Internships That Work: A guide for employers’ document that should be widely disseminated to employers in a bid to improve the quality of programmes currently offered.

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