The NUJ today welcomed reports that the Low Pay Commission is to launch an inquiry into the abuse of work experience placements.
The Guardian revealed on Saturday that the Commission is to investigate whether companies are exploiting thousands of graduates by employing them on unpaid, long-term internships.
Today, the NUJ said it has lobbied the Commission for the past three years to act against employers who breach the National Minimum Wage laws by employing interns for free.
Under the National Minimum Wage Act, the NUJ says employers are required to pay interns who perform work which is not part of a recognised education course.
The union claims that in the media many employers flout the law, exploiting the desire of thousands of young people to become journalists.
The Low Pay Commission is now expected to make a series of recommendations on internships in its annual report to be published early in the new year.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “After extensive lobbying we’re delighted the Commission is now taking this issue seriously. They must make it clear those who do work experience are entitled to be paid and those employers who continue to break the law should be fined.
"When used correctly work experience is a valuable tool for employers to identify good quality candidates and for interns to get practical experience. When used badly it is unlawful exploitation which costs jobs.”