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Unpaid workers to be discussed by Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce
A legal eagle has urged business leaders to learn more about their duties to unpaid workers.
The Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce will tackle the issue of unpaid work in its next debate.
The debate will kick off with four points of view that put forward the case for paid and unpaid internships or work experience and explore the issues surrounding this hot topic.
The contributors include Sam Rhodes of the University of Brighton, Paula O’Shea of Brighton Journalist Works and Graham Widdowson of DWP.
The panel will examine when it is acceptable to use volunteers, what businesses should do to make sure unpaid work is of value both to them and to the volunteer, and what potential legal issues businesses need to take into account.
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Rob Shepherd, chairman of the Brighton and Hove Green Party and Andy Winter, chief executive at the Brighton Housing Trust, will summarise the arguments on both sides.
The event will take place on October 16 at City College Brighton and Hove.
Fiona Martin, director and head of employment law at event sponsors Martin Searle Solicitors, said: “Although this is a moral debate, most employers do not understand the legal distinctions which govern whether someone should be paid or not.
“In the case of interns, this will depend on the nature of the work, and for apprentices, whether the purpose of the contract is to carry out work for the employer or to receive training.
“In some cases employers inadvertently turn their volunteer into an employee, which can have expensive consequences. I hope to be able to highlight the essential differences so that all businesses come away from this debate knowing what their legal duties and obligations are.”
Mr Winter said: “Of course in an ideal world everyone would want people on work experience to be paid the living wage. But we are a long way from that.
“I draw a distinction between large multi-national banks and glossy London PR agencies that provide work opportunities to the children of the rich and the very rich, and organisations like Brighton Housing Trust which is offering real opportunities for people with a history of homelessnesswho few other employers would even look at.
“Those going through our intern programme get proper experience and many go on to get proper jobs. If someone wants to give us a shedload of cash, they can have proper pay, the living wage, while they are training.”
More information at businessinbrighton.org.uk.
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