Intern pay abuse reported to the taxman via the web

Intern pay abuse reported to the taxman via the web

13 March 2014

A web tool enabling people to report bad employers suspected of not paying the national minimum wage (NMW) to interns to the taxman has been launched by Unite, the country’s largest union.

Unite has mounted a year-long campaign, along with Intern Aware, to encourage employers to sign up to a pledge to pay at least the NMW to interns, currently £6.31 an hour.

The latest step in the campaign has been to create a tool allowing people to confidentially report employers that are not paying interns directly to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) which has responsibility for enforcing the NMW.

The web campaign has been running a week and people are already starting to send in reports of abuse of NMW regulations to HMRC.

Unite national officer for the not for profit sector Sally Kosky said: “We need  assistance to stop employers who are failing to pay interns the wages that they are legally entitled to – and we want ministers to act to stamp out this rampant exploitation in a difficult jobs market.

“Now, thanks to the web, abuses can be reported to the taxman at the click of a button.

‘We are concerned that so-called internships replace paid entry level jobs and are increasingly widespread amongst charities.

“Bad bosses are often breaking minimum wage legislation as the legal uncertainty about volunteering in NMW regulations are being used to avoid paying interns in the sector.

“Unpaid internships are elitist: by not paying interns, organisations are excluding many high quality applicants, undermining ethical aims of the sector and equal opportunity in the economy as a whole.”

Unite has already complained to HMRC about exploitation of unpaid internships in the sector and believes that the impact of unpaid internships on social mobility and regional equality is extremely worrying.

Unite, which has 60,000 members in the not for profit sector, gave evidence last year to the Low Pay Commission that it understood that more than a third of the UK’s  top 50 charity employers (based on Charity Commission data from 2013) are signing up unpaid interns.

The webpage can be accessed via:

A link to the Interns in the voluntary sector – time to end exploitation report by Unite and Intern Aware can be accessed at:


For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940.

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web:

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

Intern Aware is the national campaign for fair, paid internships. We believe that unpaid internships are exploitative, exclusive and unfair. By asking people to work without pay, employers exclude those with talent, ambition and drive who cannot afford to work for free. Employers and young people alike benefit from the best graduates getting the best jobs. Only by paying interns a fair wage can we ensure this happens.