PR company to the stars under fire for paying £20 a day for 3 month internships

A celebrity PR agency which represents famous names from Ultimo underwear founder Michelle Mone and Rod Stewart’s ex-wife Rachel Hunter to reality stars from The Only Way Is Essex is coming under it’s own public pressure after having advertised a three-month social media internship paying just £20 a day.

The agency founded by Claire Powell, who was formerly Katie Price’s PR, appears to be setting a very worrying precedent and, potentially breaking minimum wage laws in paying just £20 per day for the three month experience with the company.

It is unclear from the advert whether there is scope for this internship to turn into a paid, permanent role or whether it is a so-called ‘revolving door’ internship, where one unpaid intern is simply replaced by another at the end of their placement.

Testimonials from three former interns featured on the Graduate Frog website that broke the story certainly suggest that many find that their period with the company did not lead to more stable, paid work in future.

It is however clear from the testimonials that internships at CAN, like may similar media and PR companies, be great fun especially for school or college leavers. However, it is important to remember that the vast majority of young people can’t afford to work for three months without a proper salary and this could well be creating a very dangerous precedent.

CAN are not the first media company to fall foul of a row over not paying interns an appropriate salary. Conde Naste in America were taken to court in 2013 under a class action lawsuit by a large group of former interns lead by Matthew Leib, a former intern at The New Yorker, and Lauren Ballinger, who had interned at W with the media giant settling out of court for a reported $5.8M which equates to approximately $700 to $1,900 for each intern.

Speaking about the practice of interns Richard Alvin, Group MD of media group Capital Business Media, owners of Business Matters, said: “We open our doors gladly to selected interns for upto three months at a time and cover not only all expenses, which we do for two week school work experience students, but provide a sum to them of upto £1,000 a month to interns. This sum is of course lower than a salaried position but untrained staff take a lot of in house management and resource but I am also pleased that we have been able to offer full time roles to many at the end of their three months on salaries appropriate for their role and gained experience.  To pay young people so little for the experience in working for your company reopens the debate about the questionable business practice of low paid internships which must be clamped down as it is going to kill young peoples hopes of gaining that first and crucial rung on the ladder of employment.”