We will compile here the resources that relate to unfair internships. This includes listing the organizations that defend interns, the regulations related to internships and the steps to take to expose an employer that breaches the law. On a related note, we have also compiled a list of Twitter accounts that tweet about unfair internships.
You are invited to contribute by researching the organizations and legislation in the country of your choice. We will share here results of accurate research. If you’re an organization addressing unfair internships, drop us a line.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND RESOURCES
Generation Praktikum is an association of graduate students from several universities. They want to improve the conditions of interns and replace internships of graduate students with special entry job programs. They publish some research too.
- A clear statement that the intern is not an employee and will not receive any remuneration.
- Details of the training the intern will receive, how long it will last and how it benefits the intern.
- Explicitly state that the internship brings with it no possibility of an offer of employment.
- What the level of supervision will be and who will provide it.
- Whether the intern’s performance will be reviewed and how.
- An ability for the employer to end the internship and how it would be done.
The Small Business Internship Program provides up to $10,000 to employers who hire interns to update their website.
Youth and Work is the website of a Canadian lawyer who set up this website “to address specific knowledge gaps and information asymmetries in relation to workplace law and labour market issues impacting young people in Canada.”
Spirofrog – A job posting website in German that posts offers from across Europe. They list only fair internship along the lines of the Fair Company guidelines (see Germany section).
Génération précaire (in French) was launched in September 2005 after a call for a national strike of interns. They are asking for a proper status for the interns in the labor law. They have good background information including extracts from legal decisions showing that it’s also illegal in France to abuse labor by using the internship excuse. They have interesting activities (example), including a summer university. If you’re an intern in Frane, you can join them.
Fair Company (in German) is an initiative of the German magazine Karriere (Career) started in 2004. It states 5 principles to which companies have to adhere to join. As of mid-2011, 1500 companies had signed up. It s a good idea to select an internship fromthese companies, but also to remind them of their own commitment if you find an unfair internship among them. It is endorsed by the government, so it should have teeth.
Fairwork eV (in German) was founded in 2004 as an association of graduate students that fight their precarious employment conditions.
Repubblica degli Stagisti (The Republic of Interns) is “an online magazine created to deepen the policy theme of the stage in Italy and give voice to the interns.” The managing editor, Eleanor Voltolina, wrote the book of the same title in 2010.
Apparently, it’s also illegal there. If you want to make a little research to help your fellows, we’ll put it here.
There is an interns association in The Hague that promotes “the professional welfare of interns at UN-related and intergovernmental organisations, by seeking to improve the working conditions, remuneration, and the diverse accessibility of internship programmes.”
Geneva is one unfair-internship-ridden city. With the largest United Nations office in the world, plus all the technical agencies of the UN, it attracts tons of students who hope to work in international affairs. So much of them, that the employers no longer bother to offer a salary to most of them. At least, the Geneva Intern Association now campaigns “to improve working conditions, and seeking fair remuneration” of interns.
Employment4students explains that internships can only be unpaid if they fall under one of these categories:
- If the internship is doing voluntary work for a registered charity
- If the internship is simply “work-shadowing”
- If the internship is part of your course of study
Another great resource is the document Internships and the National Minimum Wage (2009) from the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills. It answers questions such as “Does it matter what I call the internship?” or”Do I have to pay someone doing work experience?” It also says that if you’re doing an internship in the UK and think that you are being exploited, you should call the Pay and Rights helpline (0800 917 2368). Please do.
For good or for bad, the field is quite divided in the UK.
Actorsminimumwage follows “the National Minimum Wage news as it relates to acting and the performing arts.” Actors, like interns, are victims of the “you should be so lucky to work” phenomenon.
CarrotWorkers’ Collective is “a London-based group of current or ex interns, mainly from the creative and cultural sectors who regularly meet to think together around the conditions of free labour in contemporary societies.” They have a good blogroll too and some of the websites listed on this page were discovered there.
Rights for Interns is a website of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) that “sets out what rights you have as an intern, and sets out how they can be enforced.” It has legal resources for interns.
Graduate Fog provides advice to graduate students, with a special focus on the unfair practices of employers.
InternAware “is a campaign focusing on promoting fair access to the internship system.” They mobilize interns to pressure the government to make sure that companies pay at least the minimum wage. They have a nice FAQ that explains the reasons behind this kind of campaign. They also have a campaign called “Claim Back Your Pay” where they offer to help you gain the money you’re owed.
Interns Anonymous is a UK website set up in 2009 “to be a forum for interns to share their experiences and discuss the ethics of unpaid employment.” It’s indeed a good place to share your story.
Internocracy is “a youth-led social enterprise passionate about changing the culture of internships for the better in the UK. We work with organisations to support and accredit internship programmes, and with young people to break down the barriers they face in getting an internship.” They have an accreditation program for good internships.
Campaign for Fair Parliamentary Internships was started by Phil Willis, a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, and as of mid-2011 it seems to be folding now that he’s out of office. Too bad, it is a great angle, given that legislators themselves seem to infringe the law, or at least not lead by example.
Creative Toolkit is a website created by BECTU, the UK’s media and entertainment union with support from the Union Modernisation Fund. It is mainly meant to support new entrants in the media and entertainment sector, but given the widespread abuse of labour in this sector, they have a section about workers’ rights that touches upon unfair internships.
- The training, even though it includes actual operations of the facilities of the employers, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school.
- The training is for the benefit of the student.
- The student does not displace a regular employee, but works under the close observation of a regular employee or supervisor.
- The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student; and on occasion, the operations may actually be impeded by the training.
- The student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.
- The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent training.
Take note of the ten exceptions.
There’s a good letter to an intern from the Department of Labor that details those criteria. Note that you can report your employer on the web or by phone at 1-866-4-USWAGE. Or you can write a testimony to inform other potential interns. Even third parties can file a lawsuit against an employer that offers unfair internships. Law firms that deal with the issue include Yasinski & Jones and Schneider & Rubin.
Students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, can join the Rebel Intern program. See post. In New York City, the Foundation Center can help you find a potential source of funding for your internship.
InternshipRatings.com is not geared as a campaign against unfair internships, but it takes the market-based approach of weeding out the bad internships through information.
InternBridge is an agency that helps students find internships with a twist: the internships need to come with a legal wage (revolutionary!). They have excellent resources to understand the situation in the US.