An animal charity that employs Boris Johnson’s wife has come under fire after announcing an unpaid internship.
The advert on the Aspinall Foundation website said they were ‘looking for a passionate and hardworking individual’ to work in the gorilla section of Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury in Kent.
However, he added that they were “unable to offer salary or salary for placement”, which could last up to a year.
Carrie Johnson is Director of Communications at the Aspinall Foundation.
According to the government, the law specifies that “any person performing work, including a trainee, has the right to receive the minimum wage”.
The prime minister has also previously said he supports calls for a ban on unpaid internships.
The job posting – which was taken down after HuffPost UK approached the charity – read: “Howletts works in conjunction with the Aspinall Foundation; a charitable organization committed to the conservation of rare and endangered animals through breeding and reintroduction programs”.
He said the course is “a great opportunity to shadow our keepers and learn all aspects of breeding”.
The successful candidate “should be in good physical condition, happy to work at heights and comfortable lifting heavy loads,” the advert states.
Anyone interested in applying must be able to commit to working 3-5 days a week for 6-12 months.
The announcement said that because the animal park is funded by visitation fees and donations “we regret that we cannot offer salary or salary for placement”.
Apart from a uniform and a reduction in the catering outlets of the park “no other financial advantage is offered”.
The announcement read: “Applicants will be required to have the ability to support themselves financially throughout the duration of the internship.”
Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke, who has campaigned to end unpaid internships, told HuffPost UK: “There’s no ‘great opportunity’ if you have to be financially independent to be able to take on this role.
“It’s just rich people giving work to other rich people who can afford to work for free. The whole issue of unpaid internships is a blot on the employment laws in this country.
Responding to Shelbrooke shortly after becoming Prime Minister in 2019, the Prime Minister said he “absolutely endorses” his campaign to ban unpaid internships.
He said: “We should be a meritocracy and people should be able to get into jobs not based on who they know, but based on their talents.”
Shelbrooke added: ‘I hope and pray that the Prime Minister finds a mechanism to ban this practice. He pledged to do this at the dispatch box when he became Prime Minister and I still hope it is something that can be resolved.
A spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: ‘The law already says that anyone doing work, including an intern, is entitled to receive minimum wage and the government s ‘commit to ensuring that this happens at all times.
“HMRC has contacted over 2,000 employers who advertise unpaid internships online to ensure they are complying with the law and regularly reminds companies employing interns of their responsibilities.”
A wildlife park spokesperson said: “This course provides a unique opportunity to train with some of the most knowledgeable conservation professionals in the world. It is offered by the Howletts Wild Animal Trust. Carrie Johnson is employed by the Aspinall Foundation, a separate organization.