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Interns given more support for fair pay rights

The Government has announced a two-pronged strategy to protect the right of interns to fair pay.

New advice and publicity has been targeted at interns to explain what their rights are about the National Minimum Wage (NMW). They're also being told where to go for further information and what action they can take if they feel they have been exploited.

With an eye to the younger nature of the audience, the message is also being put out online and through social media, such as the NMW Facebook page.

In addition to the new guidance, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who enforce the NMW, is sending out letters to 200 employers who have recently advertised intern opportunities and unpaid work. The letters warn that HMRC will be making targeted checks on employers to ensure they are paying their workers the correct NMW rate.

So far this year, HMRC has issued penalties to 466 employers. If an intern is classed as a worker, they're normally due the NMW, which currently stands at £6.31 per hour for adults aged 21 and over, £5.03 for 18 to 20-year-olds and £3.72 for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Internships dressed up as 'work experience', 'work placements', or 'voluntary work' may well qualify for NMW, though student internships, school work experience and volunteers working for charities and other similar bodies may be exempt. Work shadowing - just observing an employee and not undertaking any work - is also exempt.

If you'd like to check your workplace policies and practices with regard to the NMW, why not get free, expert advice from the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100.

Acas also runs practical training courses on Employing people, including Contracts and terms and conditions, as well as further information on the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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