Are these guys for real? Treasury minister David Gauke — the MP in charge of ensuring that HM Revenue and Customs clamps down on employers who refuse to pay their interns – has advertised for an intern to work for six months, unpaid for HIMSELF.

Interns rights groups have labelled Gauke a hypocrite for the placement — in his Rickmansworth constituency office — but he has defended his decision, saying “Lots of people want to do it. It’s good experience.”. He added that it was “a perfectly reasonable thing to do”. Here is the advert, posted on the notorious ‘jobs’ website W4MP:

Date added: 16 March
Closing date: 13 April

Job title: Voluntary Intern

Working for: David Gauke MP (South West Hertfordshire)

Salary: None, but reasonable travel expenses will be paid.

David Gauke, MP for South West Hertfordshire, is looking to recruit a voluntary intern for the constituency office based in Rickmansworth for a minimum of six months.

Duties will include administration, basic correspondence, diary management, fundraising, campaigning and related tasks. The intern will also have the opportunity to work one day a week in the Westminster office.

The successful applicant will have strong communication, IT and organisational skills and be sympathetic to the Conservative Party aims and beliefs.

This opportunity would suit a student, recent graduate or similar.

Sounds like a job that should be paid? That’s what we think too. Yet, when questioned by journalists, Gauke showed no remorse, saying:

“It’s advertising for a post for volunteers. Lots of people want to do it. It’s good experience. It involves visiting my local Conservative Association, getting some experience of Westminster. I think that’s perfectly reasonable and those that have had the experience of working there have enjoyed it and found it very good experience.”

Gus Baker, co-founder of interns’ rights group Intern Aware — good friends of Graduate Fog — immediately highlighted the obvious hypocrisy of the advert and vowed to report Gauke to the HMRC Pay and Work Helpline for non-payment of the minimum wage. Baker added:

“Revenue and Customs have set up a hit squad to enforce the minimum wage for interns and yet the minister in charge is refusing to pay the people in his own office. David Gauke is also putting an opportunity out of the reach of the vast majority of young people who can’t afford to work for free. At a time of high youth unemployment when young people desperately need to demonstrate experience on their CVs, this is completely irresponsible.”

At Graduate Fog we are continually shocked at the large number of politicians who continue to use unpaid workers, apparently believing they are above the law. Yet this case is even more striking. It’s bad enough that Gauke is gaining free labour at the expense of young people desperate for experience. But what is seriously worrying is that he appears to have no understanding of WHY unpaid internships are so damaging for young people. Saying it’s “good experience” shows that he is miles behind this issue – which is disgraceful when it is part of his job to have informed, up-to-date knowledge of it. If guys like him are in charge of getting justice for interns, we are now beginning to see why progress with this important campaign for a fairer deal for interns has been so painfully slow…

See the ad for yourself:

What’s more shocking, his advert – or his lack of remorse? Do his comments reveal that those in charge of getting a fair deal for young workers don’t understand why unpaid internships are so damaging? Or is it just that they simply don’t CARE? Have you interned for a government minister? Where you paid for your work?

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