Minister reported to own department for advertising unpaid post in his office
David Gauke, Conservative Treasury minister responsible for HMRC, should know better, claim minimum wage campaigners.
The Treasury minister David Gauke has been reported to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) after advertising an unpaid six-month “training post” at his constituency office.
The role, based in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, is aimed at graduates and undergraduates and offers “reasonable expenses” but no salary. It involves “training in administration, basic correspondence, diary management, fundraising, campaigning and related tasks”.
It reads: “Many former trainees have found the course most valuable in securing permanent positions in politics or public affairs.”
Campaign group Intern Aware has reported the latest advertised role to HMRC, for which Gauke has been the departmental minister since May 2010. It is in charge of enforcing the national minimum wage law for workers and interns.
HMRC last month launched a crackdown on employers not paying the minimum wage and promised to investigate all cases referred to them in which firms use long-term unpaid interns.
It pledged to warn that businesses could be “publicly named and shamed” and may be liable for a £5,000 fine if they are found to be in breach of national minimum wage laws.
Gauke, Conservative MP for South West Hertfordshire, was also criticised in March 2012 for a similar advert for a “voluntary intern”, in which the job description was exactly the same as the latest post, but without the word “training” at the beginning.
The position would last for “a minimum of six months” and was targeted at “a student, recent graduate or similar”.
He told the BBC News website at the time: “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.”
The careers advice website Graduate Fog contacted Gauke to ask why his latest advertised “training post” is unpaid.
He said: “This is advertised as a position for a volunteer, enabling the successful applicant to gain experience of political campaigning and office work – working alongside association officers who are also volunteers.”
When asked to clarify nature of the “training” involved and his inconsistency in calling it simultaneously a “course”, a “volunteer” position and a “training post”, Gauke failed to respond.
Gus Baker from Intern Aware said: “Based on David Gauke’s previous advertisement for unpaid interns, at Intern Aware we find his latest advert for an unpaid training post to be highly suspicious.
“David Gauke should know that if this intern is doing real work under a contract they will be entitled to the national minimum wage. As he is the minister responsible for HMRC, which enforces minimum wage law, he should know better.”
An HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC cannot discuss individual cases for legal reasons. Anyone who thinks they are not being paid the legal wage can call HMRC’s Pay and Workers Rights hotline on 0800 917 2398.”
David Gauke was not available for comment.