Eligibility for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) depends on the real nature of your relationship with the organisation providing the internship. It is not enough for your employer just to claim that you are a volunteer or intern or self-employed, and you cannot sign away your right to be paid the NMW.
Try our Minimum Wage Calculator to check whether you are eligible for the NMW.
An employment tribunal case in 2009 found that a young woman (Nicola Vetta) working for a film company (London Dreams Motion Pictures) was eligible for the NMW, even though she had initially agreed to work only for expenses.
The National Minimum Wage enforcement team at HMRC collects unpaid wages from the users of interns who are really workers with worker rights. In May 2014, the team collected £167,000 of NMW back payments from one unnamed recruitment company which was paid to several former unpaid interns. HMRC also has the power to 'name and shame' non-payers and to levy a substantial penalty.