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New guidance on minimum wage for work experience staff

The Government has issued new guidance for businesses who offer work experience, placements and internships, designed to clarify when someone is entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

The key message is that entitlement to the NMW does not depend on a job title but on whether the arrangement they have with an organisation makes them a worker for NMW purposes. Where an individual is a worker - and no exemption applies – then they must be paid at least the NMW.

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey said: “Internships and work experience of all forms offer an excellent opportunity in helping to bridge the gap between education and the workplace. And for businesses it allows them access to a wide talent pool of some of our best and brightest who didn’t take the traditional route into a job.

“Fairness though is absolutely paramount with all placements. When a worker is entitled to the minimum wage, they should be paid it and we will continue to enforce the law. Today’s publication will help clarify this for employers and will also make sure that all interns and those on work experience placements have a better understanding of their entitlement to the minimum wage.”

The guidance includes a new worker checklist for employers and case studies. Full details can be found at www.businesslink.gov.uk/nmw

The main rate of the NMW is currently £5.93 an hour, but is set to increase to £6.08 on 1 October 2011. Also from that date, the rate for 18-20 year olds will increase by 6p to £4.98 an hour; for 16-17 year olds it will increase by 4p to £3.68 an hour; and the rate for apprentices will increase by 10p to £2.60 an hour.