David Gauke (Exchequer Secretary, HM Treasury; South West Hertfordshire, Conservative)
HMRC classifies its minimum wage investigations as either complaints received from workers or those that HMRC generates itself using intelligence- based risk assessment processes.
Before August 2011, HMRC did not specifically collect information on whether workers making complaints about non-payment of the minimum wage were interns. In 2011-12, 43 complaints were received from workers who stated that they were interns. This represents approximately 3% of the total number of complaints referred to HMRC from the Pay and Work Rights Helpline.
In response to extensive media commentary on the widespread abuse of workers' rights through the use of unpaid interns, HMRC commenced a multi-stranded approach to tackling non-compliance related to unpaid workers, including interns. This comprised working with the Pay and Work Rights Helpline to establish a fast- track process for dealing with all intern-related queries from workers across all trade sectors. Under this process all intern-related calls are being directed to the HMRC NMW Dynamic Response Team (DRT) for immediate action to establish the facts from workers and investigate the employers' practices in appropriate cases.
The second element of the approach was to carry out targeted enforcement activity within the fashion and TV/film production sectors. Follow-up action on this targeted enforcement is to be carried out in September and October 2012.