Search Jobs:


How much should you pay an intern?

  • August 27, 2020
How much should you pay an intern?

More and more companies are discovering the benefits of internship programs. Some of these companies will be offering paid programs, however there is often confusion on how much an intern should be paid.

There are many benefits of hiring interns. For example, you have the opportunity to use the internship as a test period – you can mentor and train the intern and if all goes well you can hire them after they graduate. Or you can use the fresh perspective an intern can offer and use it to enhance your social strategy and seek their feedback.

Before you consider hiring, read on to see how much you should be paying an intern:

An intern’s rights depend on their legal status and whether they are classed as:

  • A volunteer
  • A worker
  • An employee

When classed as a worker, an intern is legally obliged to receive at least the minimum national living wage. As of April 2020, the minimum national living wage is:

  • for those aged 21 to 24 - £8.20 an hour
  • those aged 18 to 20 - £6.45 an hour
  • those aged under 18 - £4.55 an hour

By law, if your intern is doing more than just shadowing other employees, they are classed as a ‘worker’ and must legally be paid for the work they do. 

Another option a lot of employers are turning towards is paying the London Living Wage. The London Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay, currently set at £10.75. It is calculated independently to reflect the high cost of living in the capital, giving a worker in London enough to afford the essentials and to save.

There are also circumstances where you aren’t required to pay an intern:

  • If you are a charity charities are exempt from the national minimum wage legislation
  • It’s a student placement internships for less than a year as part of a UK-based higher education course aren’t entitled to national minimum wage.
  • Classified as a volunteer - If your intern is classified a volunteer, they do not require payment. 
  • They are just shadowing - If the intern is required to simply watch over members of staff without carrying out any independent work, you are not required to pay a salary.

If your intern falls under any of the above, it is reasonable to at least offer to fund their travel and lunch expenses, so they aren’t out of pocket at the end of the day.

If you are looking to hire an intern for your organisation, or simply need help in recruitment please do give us a call on 0207 043 4629 or via email to and The Graduate Project will be happy to help.


By Anirudh Nair