How can I enforce my rights as an intern?

If you have a legitimate grievance and it is not possible to resolve your dispute in the workplace, you may decide to try to enforce your rights.

It is a good idea to seek advice before formally complaining about your rights. See workSMART's dedicated Enforcing your Rights section. If you are a union member, speak to your union rep. Otherwise, the Acas helpline (tel: 0300 123 1100) can provide you with advice.

Enforcement agencies

In some cases, official enforcement bodies can pursue employers on your behalf, and can fine employers for breaking the law. Enforcement agencies only have the power to enforce payment of the National Minimum Wage (NMW), working time limits, some agency standards, and health and safety rights.

For information and advice about these rights or to complain about a breach of your rights, you can also call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100.

Employment tribunals

For breaches of most employment rights you can make a complaint to an employment tribunal.

It is important to note that employment tribunals operate on strict time limits – a claim must be lodged within three months of the event about which you are complaining. However, note that in the case of unpaid wages, it is also possible to make a claim to the County Court up to six years after the event – this can be useful for claiming NMW and holiday pay. See our section on Enforcing your Rights.

For information and advice on time limits, speak to your union rep. Otherwise call the Acas Helpline (see above).

Intern campaign groups and developments

There are a number of other organisations run by and for interns, campaigning for a fair deal at work. These include Intern Aware and Graduate Fog.

The government's Graduate Talent Pool website has guidance on assessing and applying for internships and attempts to link up graduates with providers of internships.

Also see our section on Enforcing your Rights at work.

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.