Will a policy of having to pay interns be detrimental?

I completely understand where people on internships (particularly in politics) are coming from. It is outrageous that in some instance people are essentially given a proper job to do and not paid. I absolutely get it. Yet there is a counter side to that. I have been a political adviser, association chairman, regional deputy chairman parliamentary candidate twice, and guess what.. received not a penny for it. Did any of those roles have clear job descriptions? Well I suspect the roles within the party may have done – though I can’t recall seeing them.

If someone is given a 6 month role with clear responsibilities then I can accept they should get paid. But what about if someone volunteers to help out for a couple of weeks in order to get some experience? I know from experience that actually having a vounteer or indeed intern (call it what you will) for a short period of time actually takes up time and effort in order to manage the individual. The pay back for them is they learn a few things and get a good reference. If that positions also had a salary then frankly I suspect many positions would no longer be offered. If that is the case who actually loses out? I would suggest the individual who loses out on some valuable experience.

The question I have for those who know more than is when does a volunteer become and intern and is there a case whereby an individual can accept that for two weeks help on a voluntary basis, experience and a reference is payment enough?

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