London Zoo is blasted for advertising for unpaid intern

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London Zoo has been scalded for advertising for a master’s degree-educated graduate to take on a six month role – but without offering them any pay.

The job – which is only open highly qualified graduates – comprises updating the zoo’s conservation website – but it offers just a £5 a day lunch allowance and a travel card.

The role was spotted by website Graduate Fog which claims the job is yet another example of an employer using the term ‘volunteer’ to side-step rules which should ensure interns are paid at least the minimum wage.

London Zoo describes the role as for is a ‘voluntary intern’ and says the successful candidate will instead gain ‘on-the-job training’ and will benefit from attending weekly research seminars and conservation talks.

Founder of Graduate Fog, Tanya de Grunwald, said: “Minimum wage law states that while interns with regular hours and set responsibilities, doing proper work for private companies are classed as ‘workers’ (who must be paid at least the minimum wage), interns at charities can be classed as ‘voluntary workers’ – and these need not be paid.”

London Zoo’s HR department defended the advert, with a statement that said: ““We ensure that voluntary opportunities offer valuable experience and personal development, with many former placements leading to conservation careers at ZSL or other leading NGOs.”

It added: This role is flexible – it does not have fixed hours or working days, and we cover travel expenses within the Greater London area and provide a daily lunch allowance.”

According to the Sutton Trust there are up to 70,000 interns ‘working’ at any one time, with 15,000 of them unpaid. The CIPD finds that 21% of businesses ‘employing’ interns don’t pay them.