Internships always seem to go to the friends and family of people already working at the company. Surely this can't be right?

You have the right not be discriminated against on the grounds of certain characteristics protected by law (i.e. age, race, sex,disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, and sexual orientation).

Just recruiting friends and family increases the risk of your employer discriminating unfairly. Conciliation service Acas says: "It is likely to lead to a much smaller pool of suitable applicants and does not normally satisfy equal opportunities requirements because any imbalance in the workforce may be perpetuated."

Courts and tribunals may look to see if the employer discriminates by appointing interns in this way.

Genuine volunteers are not protected by the employment provisions of the Equality Act 2010. However, this is not the only basis on which interns can enforce equality rights. Other possible routes to protection under the Equality Act for interns and volunteers include:

  • the vocational training or work experience provisions under section 56(6) of the Equality Act; and
  • the 'service user' provisions of the Act (Part 3 of the Equality Act).

You can find more guidance on the TUC's Rights for Interns website, as well as campaigning news.

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.

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