Tory MPs Get 'Dummies Guide' On How Not To Get Caught Exploiting Unpaid Interns

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Tory MPs have received a "dummies guide" for employing interns to ensure they can avoid "hostile questioning" over not paying the national minimum wage.

In the Conservative Party's 2014 edition of the "common sense guide", politicians are warned of the "risks" associated with paying expenses to volunteers.

"Regular payments of expenses are likely to give the volunteer the right to the minimum wage," the document helpfully explains.

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The memo includes a "suggested template reply" to any MP who is broached with the often-awkward question of whether they pay their interns.

Politicians are also advised how to word their advertisements for interns volunteers, and are handily provided with a list of words and phrases to be avoided which "should significantly reduce the risk of potential hostile questioning about the status of the role".

Story continues below documents

Interns, workers and the minimum wage

Interns, workers and the minimum wage 2
Documents provided by Graduate Fog

The TUC said it was "disappointed" in the "hypocritical" advice.

In a statement, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: "There has been growing cross-party support for a significant increase in the minimum wage. But it also has to be properly enforced.

"It brings parliament and the law into disrepute when MPs of any party seek to get round the minimum wage. It is disappointing to find frankly hypocritical advice from a party other than ‘you must pay the minimum wage to everyone working for you’."

Tanya de Grunwald, founder of graduate careers blog Graduate Fog, told HuffPost UK she thought the memo was "odd".

"Finally, the Conservatives are taking action over their dreadful track record on hiring unpaid interns. More than any other party, the Tories just can't seem to get the facts straight in their heads on what is and isn't allowed.

"The memo is an odd document - and the point if it is open to interpretation," de Grunwald continues. "At best, it's a 'dummies' guide' for MPs, teaching them how not to accidentally exploit their interns. But at worst it could be viewed as something more sinister - 'pass notes' showing Tory MPs how not to get caught.

"It is interesting that Tory MPs need this level of detail about what jobs must be paid, and what need not be paid. It's a shame they can't 'feel' when they're doing the wrong thing."

Politicians have previously landed themselves in hot water over ambiguous advertising for a helping hand. Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford advertised for an unpaid internship lasting for up to six months, while another Lib Dem, this time John Leech MP, advertised for a six to 12 month unpaid intern.

Luckily, there is an advert for a "volunteer" on the w4mpjobs site, which is a sterling example of just how to advertise for volunteers, without risk of hostile questioning.

A Conservative spokesman told HuffPost UK: "Like all political parties we have thousands of hardworking volunteers up and down the country who want to help us secure Britain's future through our long term economic plan. At the same time, because we are a responsible employer we provide guidance on the difference between volunteers and workers."

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