Lengthy delays in HMRC dealing with interns’ complaints about National Minimum Wage

Wednesday 10th June 2015

After examining a number of cases the Observer has reported that HMRC is taking up to 14 months to even question employers following complaints made by interns that they are either not being paid anything or receiving a rate of pay below the National Minimum Wage.

One such case related to interns on television shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent who worked as ushers and crowd control on fixed hours, often between 10am and 8pm. It is claimed these interns were not being paid the National Minimum Wage for those hours worked. After this was alerted to HMRC two years ago by TV director, Mark Watson, the Observer says it has seen emails from HMRC to show that in February this year they were still in the process of taking witness statements. Watson said that he had to lobby HMRC to even get them to carry out initial inquiries.

Watson also said he was concerned that “there had been a noticeable policy shift at HMRC, whereby it would not consider complaints from interns where the individual concerned (who was working set hours and had regular duties) had known from the start that the position was unpaid and they had received no payment since starting the post”. HMRC denies any such change in policy.

For the full article, see The Observer.

Under the law, anyone who is classed as being an employee or a worker is entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage. In determining the employment status of an intern, much will depend upon the relationship between the parties, both the express terms of any contract between the parties and also way the relationship between the parties works in practice.

For advice on internships and work experience, please contact Clare Moore or any member of the employment team.