* GRADUATE FOG EXCLUSIVE *
A bizarre memo has been sent to Conservative MPs advising them to start calling their interns ‘campaign volunteers’ in order to “reduce the risk of potential hostile questioning” about their unpaid positions.
When advertising unpaid positions, MPs are urged to replace the words ‘work’ and ‘tasks’ with ‘help’ and ‘campaigning administration’. Also provided is a ‘suggested template reply’ for MPs to paste into an email, should they face questions about a position they are promoting.
The two-page document by the Conservative Party – revealed by Graduate Fog for the first time below – also advises that when advertising for unpaid interns, politicians:
– Swap the phrase “You will be expected to…” for “The kind of activities it would be great to get some help with include…”
– Don’t mention “work”, “worker”, “tasks” or “hours” – but instead ask applicants to offer their “help” with “campaigning administration”
– Instead, use the words “volunteer” and “volunteering”
– Take care only to reimburse expenses for actual bought items, as opposed to a flat rate per week. This is because “regular payments of expenses are likely to give the volunteer the right to the minimum wage” and create a “risk” that they will be “classed as a worker” and therefore must be paid.
If any Tory MPs have lost their copy of the memo, here it is:
The memo is certainly puzzling. The document does provide some sound information about the legal difference between a worker and a volunteer. But Graduate Fog is concerned that the structure is so poor it is difficult to work out what it is really saying. If it’s designed to clarify the legal situation and prevent accidental exploitation, it fails. At the end of this confusing two-page document, some readers will be left more baffled than when they started.
*WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THIS MEMO?
Is the Conservative Party trying to educate its MPs about the facts on unpaid internships? Or was this document designed to help shield politicians from awkward questions about their unpaid positions? Are internships with MPs true ‘volunteer’ roles? Have your say below…
* Ever interned unpaid for a politician? Please get in touch! *