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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Update: Intern name-and-shame campaign avoids media companies

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A campaign to name and shame large companies that fail to pay interns a proper wage is steering clear of media companies – which are among the worst offenders – due to fears over lack of publicity.

The news came to light as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published guidance for employers that provide work experience, placements and internships.

The advice, which has been updated by Business Link and DirectGov, includes guidelines on when interns are entitled to be paid under National Minimum Wage legislation, a new worker check list and case study examples.

Graduate Fog, an advice website aimed at job-hunting graduates, meanwhile, has got together with pressure groups Intern Aware, Internocracy and Interns Anonymous, to email the press offices of 76 UK companies, asking them to clarify their policy on internships.
 
Any of the chosen organisations in industries ranging from retail, high tech and music to book publishing, leisure, PR, advertising and recruitment that fail to pay interns, even if they appear to be undertaking regular work for them, will be asked to explain how such practices comply with National Minimum Wage legislation.
 
The first to attest that it is paying interns the NMW is advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, but others are expected to declare themselves over the next few weeks.
 
Tanya de Grunwald, Graduate Fog’s founder who masterminded the campaign, said: “Critics of this campaign will say that forcing companies to pay interns a wage will decrease opportunities for young people. While I accept that there is a chance that a small number of (low quality) internships may disappear, I believe most – and best – would remain.”
 
The majority of interns undertook “real work” that needed to be done, which meant that employers would find the money to pay them. Those unable to find the cash were “not proper businesses” and probably had no intention of offering interns a job anyway, she added.
 
Targeted companies on the ‘Pay Your Interns!’ campaign list to date include Boots, Tesco, Orange, EMI, Penguin, EasyJet, Champneys and Harrods, but the web site is also requesting that whistle blowers get in touch so that it can investigate further.
 
Firms not in its sights, however, include Google “because getting on the wrong side of them is a bad idea when you run a website!” and magazines, newspapers or news channels.
 
The fear in the latter instance is that news outlets will not feature stories in which they themselves are named and shamed. “So we’ve let them off the hook. For now,” the campaign web site explained.
 
 
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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