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Hi, there’s something we want to talk to you about.

Paying the staff. That goes without saying, right? Anyone who puts in a shift with or for you, deserves to have their rent paid, their groceries covered and enough left over for a modest data plan.

Or do they?

We absolutely believe they do and we are proud to join 6000 other employers who believe a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. Newsdirect is a Living Wage Employer. We extend this commitment to anyone who does a job of work in the company – including our fantastic interns.

Alas, not all companies operating in our sector agree. Entry level roles in politics, such as those offered by Newsdirect, are often billed as “internships”. Applicants are expected to show up regularly and do a job that contributes in a significant way to the functions performed by these organisations but inexplicably do not appear to need a salary.

 

 

We were really disappointed recently to read of one major consultancy offering a 70 hour “insight placement” with no remuneration but a lengthy list of requirements including regular attendance at an office to carry out a job of work checking websites, watching political debates and drafting reports. In short, two working weeks spent providing monitoring services to this agency’s clients. A monitoring service those clients pay for.

“Ah, but it’s good experience…” goes the popular excuse for this sharp practice. Maybe it is but it’s also unfair on many levels. First, it discriminates. Not everyone can afford to work for free so those that can build up their CVs by working for nothing find themselves at an advantage (and thus politics ends up full of people from the same privileged backgrounds). Second, it’s exploitative. Any private company which offers unpaid internships to carry out work it later bills for is making a tidy profit – at the expense of the person who feels they have to work for free.

This week is Living Wage Week where all accredited employers make a renewed commitment to pay a wage that covers realistic living cost.  This year we’d like your help to stamp out exploitative contracts. The next time you put your monitoring services out to tender, make paying the Living Wage a requirement. Double check your monitoring provider does not use unpaid interns and if they do, ask them some uncomfortable questions as to why.

 

We know organisational budgets are incredibly squeezed at the moment but let’s find other places to make efficiencies. Young people entering today’s job market have it tough enough already.

Thanks for reading,

Kirsty Peebles & Valerie Livingston

 

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