Charging students to work for you

As the argument rages about whether minimum wage legislation should be enforced for all, or interns should be exempted, some organisations are going even further.

An organisation called Etsio is actually advertising vacancies where the intern has to pay for the privilege of working. Companies are advertising on the site and asking for fees of between £60 and £130 per day from the intern. I find this incredible – on the one hand there is a debate happening about whether people should be allowed to work without any remuneration or not. On the other hand there is an intermediary organisation and employers making a complete mockery of this and charging interns substantial amounts.

One of the points raised against letting interns work for free is that it promotes inequality. It’s an understandable point, but it’s debatable. Once you start charging an intern around £100 a day for the privilege of doing work though, then the inequality argument becomes a lot stronger. I don’t think anyone would suggest that all of the young people of today would be in a position to pay for this privilege!

What amazes me is that companies are associating themselves with this intermediary organisation. At best this practice of getting interns to pay is dubious, at worst it is exploitative, and completely illegal. Whatever it is though, the damage that can be done to a brand if a company is advertising their vacancies on this website is immeasurably. A bit of press coverage and your business is at massive risk of being portrayed in a very negative light. Tread carefully.

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