Tory MPs advised how to avoid paying minimum wage

The Conservative Party have been accused of hypocrisy after backing plans to raise the minimum wage while sending out advice to its MPs on how to avoid paying it.

Tory MPs were sent a two-page memo instructing them to replace words like "worker" and "intern" in advertisements with "campaign volunteer" instead.

They were also told to avoid paying regular expenses to their interns as this would be "likely to give the volunteer the right to the minimum wage".

It instructs MPs to replace phrases like "you will be expected to…" with "The kind of activities it would be great to get some help with include…" in any job descriptions.

The memo, leaked to the website Graduate Fog has been revealed following the chancellor George Osborne's decision to back plans for a significant rise in the minimum wage.

Unions today accused the Tories of hypocrisy.

"It brings parliament and the law into disrepute when MPs of any party seek to get round the minimum wage," TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said.

"It is disappointing and frankly hypocritical for a party to advise anything other than ‘you must pay the minimum wage to everyone working for you’."

The Conservative party recently announced their support for a higher minimum wage in an attempt to head off criticism that the economic recovery is only benefiting the richest in society.

Speaking in support of the minimum wage last month, Osborne said: "I believe Britain can afford an above-inflation increase in the minimum wage so we restore its real value for people and we make sure we have a recovery for all and that work always pays."

A spokesperson for the party said today that the memo was purely designed to explain to MPs the difference between workers and volunteers.

"Like all political parties we have thousands of hard-working volunteers up and down the country who want to help us secure Britain's future through our long-term economic plan.

"At the same time, because we are a responsible employer we provide guidance on the difference between volunteers and workers."