Interns and paying them

Advertising your vacancies – internships and minimum wage

If you are looking to recruit then it may well have crossed your mind to hire an “intern”. Although there is no real standard definition of intern, it is generally perceived as a person that can work temporarily for your organisation, and there is a benefit to them other than just financial remuneration.

The aim of this document is to explain the Minimum Wage legislation, how it ties in with internships, and what your legal obligations are. Employment4students is not just a jobsite where you advertise a position and we generate applications , we want to provide more than this. We want to ensure that you, our clients, have as much information as possible on all areas concerning recruiting and are able to make informed decisions. With over 10 years of experience in recruiting, Employment4students is more of a recruitment partner than just a jobsite.

With that in mind, and with the current debates on internships that are becoming more and more prevalent, we have written these “if you want to hire an intern, or want to pay someone less than the minimum wage” guidelines!

What is the National Minimum Wage?

“The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid”

There are different levels of NMW, depending on your age and whether you are an apprentice. The current rates are:

• £5.93 – the main rate for workers aged 21 and over
• £4.92 – the 18-20 rate
• £3.64 – the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18
• £2.50 – the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Please note – these rates are going up as of 1st October 2011.

The law is very clear in that most people will be entitled to at least this wage. Just by calling a vacancy an internship, doesn’t all of a sudden mean that you as an employer do not have to pay your employee at least this rate. There are however exceptions, and in certain situations workers are not entitled to this. The main areas are below:

• If you are a charity, voluntary organisation, associated fund raising body or statutory body then if you take on a “voluntary worker” – they are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage
• If you take on a student for “work experience” as part of their course (where the contract is less than a year) then you do not have to pay the National Minimum wage. Please note it must be part of their course.

Alternatively, if you really want to comply with the law and not pay the National Minimum Wage, then you could always make your employee a company director – which makes them ineligible!! We are not suggesting you actually do this of course..

You can find out more about the other specific situations and what your obligations are as a recruiter, at Direct Gov:

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