Over 100 fashion houses received a letter from HM Revenue & Customs this week warning them not to stiff their interns. British tax officials said they had evidence that some top labels were treating interns like employees but not compensating them as such. Tax-lady Michelle Wyer, who helps police the U.K.’s national minimum wage for the HMRC, says that they sent the letter in time for fashion houses to arrange for proper payment leading into London Fashion Week in February. She tells the Telegraph:
These letters give fashion houses plenty of warning that they are under scrutiny. If they are not playing by the rules, now is the time to put things right. Non-payment of the national minimum wage is not an option. Our message is clear: don’t wait for us to come knocking on your door; put things right now and avoid a penalty and possible prosecution.
Who could she possibly be addressing? Not anyone who assigns students to make clothes in defunct nightclubs, surely.