Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt criticised for recruiting unpaid interns

Cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt has been pilloried by campaigners after advertising for unpaid interns.

The culture secretary was found to be advertising for multiple “constituency interns”, offering to pay travel expenses only. The roles were targeted at recent graduates and involve “assisting the caseworker with constituency casework, assisting with surgeries and helping with the day-to-day running of a busy office”. The internships are full-time and appear to last for three months.

The Graduate Fog website claims that when it wrote to Mr Hunt’s office to draw attention to this, his spokesperson insisted that Mr Hunt is “extremely proud” of his use of unpaid interns.

The official reply from the MP’s spokesperson added: “Due to widespread demand, internships are offered in Jeremy Hunt’s office to those who are looking for the opportunity to get hands-on work experience and an insight into the world of politics.

“Expenses are covered for all internships so they are open to as many people as possible and guidance and training is provided throughout.

“The office enters in to an intern volunteer agreement as set out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority [IPSA]. Jeremy Hunt’s office is extremely proud of its track record of assisting previous interns in finding full-time employment at the end of their three-month internship.”

The reply refers to guidelines by the IPSA, which ruled in March 2010 that MPs do not need to pay their interns, but shows that Mr Hunt is perhaps unaware that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has thrown his weight behind a campaign launched last week by PRWeek and the PRCA to end the practice of unpaid internships.

XpertHR has specific advice on employing interns:

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