Unpaid internship to… clean toilets?

Unpaid internship to… clean toilets?

Unpaid internship to… clean toilets?

The hospitality industry could learn from insurers when it comes to treating interns – especially when it expects them to clean toilets for free.

That industry is coming under fire for the practice of using unpaid interns to do the dirty work normally done by paid cleaning staff – like scrubbing bathroom floors and toilets.

One young woman, 21-year-old Samantha May, was expected to clean 16 rooms a day at an airport hotel for three months in 2011.

“There were days I didn’t want to get up in the morning, mostly because I wasn’t getting paid,” May said. “I was only there for the experience. Some people, it does bother them because they would like to get paid, especially if they are doing a lot of work.”

It is a practice that is frowned upon by one Canadian insurance company, who regularly take on interns – but make a point of paying them the same as any other employee.

“They’re not just here to help do the photocopying, as I think a lot of interns are used for that,” Gary Hirst, national director of Burns & Wilcox Canada, told HRM Online. “And I think that is why those individuals will end up leaving, because they think ‘this is quite boring,’ and they aren’t used for anything substantial. They want to be taken seriously, and receive some true training.” (continued.)


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