My internship was advertised as unpaid. Does this mean that I have no right to the National Minimum Wage?

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.

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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