NZRise members have observed an emerging trend in New Zealand of offering students or recent graduates work experience via an unpaid “internship”. Our research has clarified this style of work placement does not exist in New Zealand employment law, volunteering would be the closest description which is subject to a range of legislation in itself. Our members have discussed the moral and ethical issues unpaid Internships create along with our role in the economy as business owners and agreed on the following:

NZ Rise members agree that all interns should be paid a fair market wage.  Accordingly, we believe that internships should consist of the following characteristics:

  • Interns should be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours of their internship but preferably (at least) the living wage.
  • Internships should primarily be about developing the talents of interns with a hope of bringing talent into your companies our industry.
  • All interns should be treated the same as employees and with dignity regardless of sex, sexuality, disability, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or other arbitrary feature.
  • All interns should be supported in their position and given opportunities to grow in their learning.
  • Companies should consider bringing diversity to our industry and reduce inequality as a key part of any internship.

We support any company undertaking the above and are happy to work with companies and connect with the wider industry regarding this Policy Position.

To assist businesses and individuals in understanding this complex issue we have published a guide “The ‘Down-Under’ on Unpaid Internships”, the research for this paper co-ordinated by Thomas Mitchell of Hunchbuzz.

You can review and download the paper here: NZRise Guidance Paper Internships

Further reading on Internships can be found here: Internships Position & Guide

We encourage all New Zealand owned businesses to align with our position and would welcome your support. 

Victoria MacLennan, Co-Chair NZRise

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