A. Listen to the first part of a radio programme, where Jake Butler of savethestudent.org talks about internships. Circle the correct answer.
1 The situation for interns is better / worse than in the past.
2 It is sometimes legal / illegal not to pay interns.
3 The law says that interns who have been promised jobs in the future don’t have to / have to be paid.
4 A company doesn’t have to / must pay interns who are substituting for paid employees.
5 School-age students doing work experience have to / don’t have to be paid.
6 If an intern is not being paid, he or she should have fixed working hours / choose his or her own hours.
1 better 2 legal 3 have to 4 must 5 don’t have to
6 choose his or her own hours
I = interviewer, J = Jake Butler
I Recently in the news, students and graduates have been complaining about how interns are treated, basically about the fact that many people doing internships are either very badly paid or not paid at all. We asked Jake Butler from the website save the student dot org to give us the facts. Hello, Jake. Nice to have you on the programme.
J Hi there.
I So what’s the current situation with interns getting paid?
J Well, I’d like to make it clear that at Save the Student, we’re strongly against unpaid internships. And thankfully, the situation is better than it used to be.
I But are unpaid internships actually legal?
J They can be. It all depends on your status as an intern: that is, whether you qualify as ‘a worker’ or not. And the law isn’t completely clear about what being ‘a worker’ means.
I So how do you know if you should be getting paid?
J Well, if you’re promised a contract for future work once the internship period is over, then you are an employee, so you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage – that’s seven pounds seventy an hour – or the National Living Wage if you’re over twenty-five, which is eight pounds twenty-one an hour.
I Are there any other situations in which you should definitely be paid?
J Yes. If you spend your day doing jobs that would usually be done by a paid employee, then you should also be paid the Minimum or Living Wage.
I So when is it legal for an employer not to pay an intern?
J You don’t have to be paid if you’re doing an internship as part of your university course, or if you’re doing school work experience. And of course, if you’re volunteering for a charity.
I Any other situations?
J Yes, you also don’t have to be paid if the role you have is similar to work experience or shadowing – where you are in an office or another workplace just to observe and learn about what’s going on, rather than actually working. But, and this is very important, if you’re not getting paid for doing an internship, you shouldn’t be given fixed working hours.
I So the important thing is to know your rights?
I Thank you very much, Jake.
B. Listen to the second part of the programme, where two women talk about their experiences of internships. What was each of them paid, if anything?
C. Listen again and make notes for each woman about:
1 the kind of work they did.
2 the good side of internships.
3 the bad side.
Rosie was paid £15 a day for lunch and transport in one internship.
Lauren was paid her travel expenses and her lunch in her last internship, but nothing in her previous ones.
The kind of work: fashion design / hat-making
The good side: learned a lot about designing and making clothes; enjoyed seeing her hats in the newspaper
The bad side: didn’t get paid much; hard work; had to work late; had to work in a bar as well
The kind of work: publicity / public relations
The good side: paid travel expenses and lunch; learned a lot; experience helped when she applied for jobs
The bad side: worked very long hours; earned no money; had to work in a pub; had to do the work of her manager; wasn’t paid for using her own phone; was promised jobs at the end, but wasn’t offered one
I = interviewer, R = Rosie, L = Lauren
I We’re now asking people who either are interns or have just been interns to phone in and tell us about their experiences. Our first caller is Rosie. Hi Rosie, and thanks for calling. So, what’s your experience?
R Well, I wanted to work in fashion – making hats, to be precise – and in the fashion industry, it’s almost impossible to get a job unless you do an internship first, so I did several.
I And did you get paid?
R The most I got was about fifteen pounds a day for lunch and transport. Companies get so many applications for internships that they don’t need to pay you.
I So it wasn’t a good experience?
R Actually, it was. It was very hard work, but I learned loads about designing and making clothes. I sometimes worked later than eleven p.m., and that wasn’t easy, but then I’d look in the newspapers and I’d see a model wearing a hat that I’d helped to make, and then I felt great.
I But it can’t have been easy to survive, financially?
R No, it wasn’t. My parents were able to help me a bit, but I had to earn money by working in a bar as well.
I Would you recommend doing an internship?
R Oh yes, overall, I think they’re brilliant. I’d definitely advise someone to do one – despite the hard work and the debt, you learn so much that it’s worth it.
I Thank you, Rosie. Our next caller is Lauren. Hi, Lauren.
I So what was your experience like?
L I’ve done four internships in Publicity. My last one was two months at a small Public Relations agency. They paid for my travel expenses and lunch, and I learned a lot. It really helped me when I applied for jobs because I knew what I was talking about.
I So, a good experience.
L Absolutely. But in the other three, I worked ten-hour days, six days a week, and I got no money at all, so I also had to work in a pub to support myself. And each time they told me, ‘Do well and there’ll be a job at the end of it.’ But then there were no jobs. It made me so angry.
I And were you working during these internships, or was it more observing others?
L I was working really hard. In fact, during one of those internships, the manager went on holiday for a month and I had to manage everything. And in another one, I worked from home, using my own phone, and I wasn’t paid a penny, not even to cover the phone bill. I only met the boss once – it was all done by email. She promised me a job after three months, but it never happened.
I So you felt you were being exploited?
L Yes, totally.
I I’m really sorry to hear that, Lauren…
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