Internship Employment Rights

An intern’s rights depends on their employment status. If an intern is classed as a worker, then they are normally due the National Minimum Wage.

Internships are sometimes called work placements or work experience. These terms have no legal status on their own. The rights they have depend on their employment status and whether they are classed as:

If an intern does regular paid work for an employer, they may qualify as an employee and be eligible for employment rights.

Rights to the National Minimum Wage

An intern is entitled to the National Minimum Wage if they count as a worker.

Employers can not avoid paying the National Minimum Wage if it is due by:

  • saying or stating that it does not apply

  • making a written agreement saying someone isn’t a worker or that they are a volunteer

Promise of future work

An intern is classed as a worker and is due the National Minimum Wage if they are promised a contract of future work.

When interns are not due the National Minimum Wage

Student internships

Students required to do an internship for less than one year as part of a UK-based further or higher education course are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

School work experience placements

Work experience students of compulsory school age, for example under 16, are not entitled to the minimum wage.

Voluntary workers

Workers are not entitled to the minimum wage if both of the following apply:

  • they are working for a charity, voluntary organisation, associated fund raising body or a statutory body

  • they do not get paid, except for limited benefits (for example reasonable travel or lunch expenses)

Work shadowing

The employer doesn’t have to pay the minimum wage if an internship only involves shadowing an employee, for example if no work is carried out by the intern and they are only observing.

Make a complaint

Get further advice by contacting the Acas helpline or use the Acas Helpline Online.

Report problems with working hours or the minimum wage by filling in a pay and work rights complaints form.

For further information: