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Should interns be paid?
In order to be eligible for the NMW, you have to meet two tests:
- you must be a 'worker' – as defined in NMW, paid holidays and working time law; and
- you must not fall into one of the exemptions from the NMW.
You can use our online minimum wage calculator to see if you qualify for the NMW, and if so, which rate you should receive.
A 2009 employment tribunal case 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 only to receive expenses.
If your internship only involves work-shadowing, you may not have a right to be paid. But if as an intern you do work of value for your employer, you are likely to have a right to the NMW. This will particularly be the case if your employer agrees to pay you expenses or other benefits in kind, including training, in return for your work.
Your contract might set a higher rate of pay than the NMW. In any event, provided you meet the definition of a 'worker', your basic pay must not be less than the NMW.