What can I do if I have a problem with my internship?

Dealing with problems at work can feel intimidating. One of the most effective forms of protection in the workplace is to join a trade union as soon as you start. Union officials will offer you support and advice, and workplace-based union reps can accompany members to formal grievance and disciplinary meetings with your employer.

If there is a trade union in your workplace, ask to talk to the union representative. They will help you to join. If you don't know if there is a union in your workplace or you need more information, use our handy Union Finder to see which is the most appropriate one for you to contact.

Raising a grievance at work

If you think that your employer is mistreating you or is not granting you your rights, you may want to raise the issue directly with them.

Often the best way is to have an informal meeting with your immediate manager to explain your concerns. This can be the quickest way of resolving any problems amicably.

For support, you can contact one of the specialist not-for-profit organisations campaigning for better protection of interns, such as Intern Aware and Graduate Fog.

But if this informal approach does not deal with the issue, you may decide to raise a formal grievance with your employer.

You should check first whether your employer's procedure applies to interns. The procedure will either be contained in your contract or in a workplace handbook. If it covers interns, you should follow the steps contained in the procedure. You should ask to be accompanied to the meeting by a colleague or a union rep if you have one. You have the legal right to be accompanied if you have the legal status of a 'worker'. A good employer should allow you to take someone into the meeting with you as a companion if this is what you prefer, even if there are doubts as to whether you have a legal right to do this.

For more information and advice on resolving disputes at work, speak to your union rep or contact the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.