Interns should be paid wages

Interns who work for three months or longer should be paid a wage, a business group has argued.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that a basic training payment of £2.50 an hour for interns would help to improve productivity amongst UK firms.

John Philpott, the CIPD's chief economic adviser, commented: "The Government wants to foster a strong, private sector-led, economic recovery, but we have yet to see a coherent strategy for economic growth to sit alongside the Chancellor's very clear-cut approach to reducing the fiscal deficit.

"The coalition needs to show greater urgency in implementing measures to help boost the long-run supply side capacity of the UK economy, which must include efforts to boost productivity by improving the way in which businesses manage the people they employ."

According to a study carried out by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, a fifth of graduates who had joined some form of work experience scheme in the summer of 2009 eventually gained a position with the employer who offered them an internship placement.

However, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) warned last year that a significant proportion of interns could be classified as employees under the terms of the national minimum wage and, as such, could lodge claims for payments.

The CIPD would like to see the introduction both of a formal training wage for those on extended work placements and a legal mediation process to prevent internships resulting in employment tribunal claims.