Tag Archives: internships

Workfare Week Gets Worse! Work For Up To A Year Without Getting Paid Says #WEWeek2015

fair-train-interns

A government funded so-called charity is today encouraging employers to break minimum wage laws and hire unpaid interns with “no financial obligations in terms of salary”.

The advice is being offered by Fair Train who last year were paid £283,000 of tax payer’s money to promote unpaid work schemes and workfare.  The organisation are currently holding a Work Experience Week with a different form of unpaid work celebrated everyday.  Yesterday it was the turn of unpaid – and soon to be mandatory – Traineeships.  Today they have decided to focus on internships, with their official guidance (pdf) suggesting they need not be paid and that a placement could last up to a year.

In almost all cases unpaid internships are illegal.  According to the government: “An intern is entitled to the National Minimum Wage if they count as a worker.”  What this means is that anybody who actually does some work for an organisation, unless they are a charity volunteer or it is part of en educational study programme, should be paid at least the minimum wage.  This specifically applies if this work is done for a “benefit in kind, eg the promise of a contract or future work.”  Astonishingly Fair Train even seem to be encouraging employers to offer exactly this, saying that: “Many employers use internships to train and evaluate potential new recruits before offering them permanent employment, creating a win:win situation for both the young person and the employer.”

Several companies have been taken to court and forced to backpay wages due to hiring unpaid interns.  Fair Train don’t mention this in their guidance.  In fact they don’t mention interns getting paid at all, even as a recommendation.  It is not even a requirement to qualify for one of their bogus Work Experience Quality Standard awards which they say exist to ensure unpaid work placements are of a high standard.  It appears that a company could qualify for a Gold Level Quality Standard award and still be flouting the law by using unpaid interns.  What a joke.  Just watch them fucking wriggle now.

You can tell @FairTrainOrg what you think of their promotion of unpaid work on twitter using the hashtag #WEWeek2015.

You can report unpaid internship at: http://www.internaware.org/report_an_unpaid_internship

To join the fight against forced unpaid work visit Boycott Workfare’s website or follow them on twitter @boycottworkfare.

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The Tories And The TUC Are Both Hypocrites Over Unpaid Work

Interns-workers-and-the-minimum-wage1The breath-taking hypocrisy of both the Tory Party and the TUC was laid bare this week after an astonishing document emerged which advises Tory Party MPs on how to dodge minimum wage legislation by renaming interns as ‘volunteers’.

The leaflet, which was published on the Graduate Fog website, provides legal advice on minimum wage legislation along with a template letter that can be used to fob off any enquiries to MPs about their use of unpaid interns.  This shoddy attempt to dodge the rules on paying workers comes in the same week that David Cameron announced in Parliament that his Government was naming and shaming firms which don’t pay minimum wage.

It is not just the Tory Party who are shameless hypocrites when it comes to unpaid work however.  The TUC have been quick to criticise this document, with a press release claiming they are ‘disappointed that MPs are being advised on how to get round the minimum wage’.

Yet late last year the very same TUC were involved in the Week of Workfare, a DWP funded celebration of unpaid Work Experience.  The TUC have also backed a Quality Standard award for work experience – even going as far as supporting a document which called for companies which use unpaid workers to be paid by the tax payer.  This is despite the TUC claiming to be opposed to workfare, which is what the Government’s Work Experience scheme is.  As pointed out by @boycottworkfare, last year’s vote at the TUC Conference to campaign against workfare seems to have been completely ignored.

It appears that the TUC leadership think unpaid work for largely middle class graduates wanting to work for the Tory Party is disappointing – but workfare for the poor is just fine.  You might even question whose side they are on, because at the moment it doesn’t look much like it’s ours.

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Universal Jobmatch Makes A Mockery of Minimum Wage Clampdown

internships_UJEarlier in the year Jo Swinson, Minister for Employment Relations at the Department for Business, released a stern press release in which she declared that:  “Paying less than the minimum wage is totally unacceptable.”

This accompanied a story from HMRC which detailed a £4 million pound combined pay out to workers denied the minimum wage by unscrupulous employers.  Several of those compensated had been working as unpaid interns, the latest fad amongst some employers keen to avoid paying young people a wage.  HMRC have announced that they are fast-tracking investigations into this form of unpaid labour:

“Anyone who believes they are not being paid the National Minimum Wage can call the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368. Calls to the helpline from interns, who are working for nothing or for “expenses only”, are being fast-tracked to HMRC enforcement officers for investigation.”

Yet if Jo Swinson wants to track down businesses breaking minimum wage laws then perhaps the first place to look would be the Government’s own Universal Jobmatch website.  This is the website which unemployed people are increasingly forced to sign up for as a condition of receiving benefits and which is riddled with scams, spoofs, sex work and dubious self-employment vacancies.

Nestled alongside the adverts for lap dancers and Mafia drug couriers, the website features a whole host of unpaid work.  Those who are prepared to work for a daily lunch allowance can have the privilege of working full time for this recruitment agency as a ‘volunteer’.  Astonishingly they even expect applicants for this unpaid role to have “previous sales or recruitment experience”.

Other opportunities for people to line the pockets of bosses by working for free include a role at Mansion Estates, London.  This involves working six days a week propping up the profits of an estate agents and ‘may’ even lead to a real job.  It is unclear whether this role is unpaid, or whether it attracts the £500 a month salary listed in the side bar.  Either way it breaches minimum wage laws.  Another London estate agent is also on the look out for free workers.  Simple E14 Ltd are keen to recruit a ‘voluntary receptionist’.

Some of the unpaid work advertised on Universal Jobmatch may be legal, but only if it is part of a recognised Government scheme.  So this position, as an unpaid office volunteer with Aquaseal,seems to be part of the Work Experience scheme and is likely to be legal.  This one however, ten weeks unpaid work for the law firm Adonai Beulah Solicitors, seems to be completely illegal.  You’d think a bunch of solicitors might know better.

Another exciting opportunity is this vacancy advertised by david@sign-meup.co.uk who wants people to spend the Summer working without pay answering the phone, filing and ‘mainly data entry’.  Be prepared to work hard for no wages, the company warn: “You will be set daily targets to meet and be expected to reach that target.”

According to Jo Swinson: “Whenever we find examples of businesses breaking the law we will crack down on them.”

Perhaps she should have a word with Iain Duncan Smith who seems to be aiding and abetting employers who break minimum wage laws on a national scale.  It is not just unpaid workers who are being ripped off by these companies.  The tax payer is paying benefits to fund these unpaid workers whilst the companies are dodging the National Insurance they would have to pay were these workers on wages.  The renegade DWP is making a mockery of the minimum wage laws, and we are all paying the cost.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Wages For Interns, Workfare For The Poor Says Hazel Blears MP

blears-smugLabour MP Hazel Blears’ appalling workfare hypocrisy has been exposed this week after she jumped on the intern bandwagon to demand an end to unpaid work for middle class graduates.

Blears has been supporting the Intern Aware campaign, which rightly calls for internships – periods of work experience usually aimed at graduates beginning professional careers – to come with a salary.  Blears claims it is a “modern day scandal” that these jobs come without pay.

Yet astonishingly (as revealed by @boycottworkfare on twitter) Blears doesn’t just support unpaid work for young unemployed people, but she is actively involved in arranging workfare placements.  Blears runs the Kids Without Connections scheme, a ‘work experience’ programme linked to the Jobcentre and which doesn’t pay workers a penny.

Far from being a “modern day scandal” Blears claims it is “fantastic” that scores of young people have been sent to work unpaid for profit making companies like the multi-national Fujitsu.

Rarely has such naked class prejudice within the Labour Party been more exposed.  It is chilling that even a woman from a working class background like Blears appears to think that those who are poor should not have the same basic human right to a wage as everybody else.

Sadly even to Labour MPs the poor are a now seen as a barely human sub-class who can be kicked around at will as a warning to everyone else. In this context it is easy to understand why the increasing number of deaths linked to welfare reforms are glibly dismissed by politicians of all parties.  The suffering of the poor to these scum is nothing compared to the scandal that their own darling little Tarquins and Jemimas might have to work for a couple of months without pay before they begin their lucrative careers in politics, media, law or the arts.

And of course they should be paid, every worker deserves a wage, and Blears is right to say that companies using unpaid workers should be ‘named and shamed’.  So let’s start with @fujitsu_uk, @2ergo and @KeepmoatHomes who have all exploited young unemployed people as part of @HazelBlearsMP workfare scheme.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid