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A third of UK businesses admit to exploiting interns

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Nearly a third of businesses in the UK are exploiting their interns – according to the staff already working within them.

31.6% of workers feel that their companies aren’t treating their interns fairly, according to new research, and 21% aren’t paying their interns any money at all.

Although more than two-fifths of companies (42.8%) regularly employ interns for more than three weeks and 40.3% pay minimum wage or above, a further 11.5% pay just “a token amount”, 5.2% only cover travel expenses, and over a fifth (21.2%) offer no pay at all.

The results also revealed that 14.7% of employers (one in seven) don’t give their interns the kind of work they would undertake if they managed to land the job they were seeking, whilst 33.7% gave them work described as “menial.”

The study was carried out byserviced office provider Business Environment, and revealed during the week that parliament voted to take forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill advocating better payment of those on work experience. It questioned 1,500 UK citizens whose company employed interns.

David Saul, CEO of Business Environment, said: “Internships can be rewarding and useful experiences for both the intern and the company – but a significant minority of placements are used as cheap labour, providing little experience or benefit to the jobseeker.”

He continues: “It’s important for companies to change their processes with or without legislation. We need to recognise that internships are a two-way deal – an extra pair of hands for the company, in return for a useful experience and preferably some kind of compensation for the jobseeker.”

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