If I take an unpaid internship am I likely to be exploited in the context of Employment Law?

Unpaid Internships

Currently considering the problems with employment experienced in the United Kingdom has led to many people aged between 16 and 24 opting to work under an unpaid internship.

What will an unpaid internship consist of?

An unpaid internship is likely to consist of an individual working with a specific company for a certain period of time without receiving remuneration. The purpose of the internship will be to give that individual a flavor of the industry which they wish to work in rather than requiring them to undertake the duties that other employees would be expected to do. For example they may meet with certain people involved in the company such as directors to chat and be provided with information about the industry – something which a new employee probably would not get the opportunity to do.

What industries commonly use unpaid internships?

The media industry will commonly use unpaid internships to enable certain individuals to learn certain aspects about the industry and also as a way of testing what skills the brightest individuals with the potential to work in that field posses. Certain business and legal firms will also use unpaid internships to give certain individuals experience of what it is like to work in the industry – specifically individuals who wish to work in the legal industry can apply to do vacation schemes while they are studying.

What are the benefits of undertaking an unpaid internship?

If an individual wishes to work in a specific field which is extremely demanding and difficult to get a starting berth in it is often a good idea for them to undertake an internship to not only provide them with some form of experience but also to set them apart from all other applicants wishing to gain a place in the industry.

Is there a legal requirement to pay interns?

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For more information on:

  • Is this system open to abuse?
  • Is it illegal for a company to do this?
  • Would companies face legal action if they are found to do this?
  • What should I do if I find myself in this position?