Pret a Manger Faces Backlash for Planning to Pay Interns With Food

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The company says that only one in 50 of the chain’s job applicants are born in the UK

The sandwich chain says that it will pay the interns minimum wage in the U.K. during the program.

The days of unpaid internships are over, at least for the 500 teens Pret a Manger planned to hire in the United Kingdom this summer. Recently, the chain was criticized for paying interns with food, but has since agreed to pay participants in the internship program hourly and also provide free food.

The “Work Experience Week” summer internship program for 16 to 18 year olds was created in light of the potential impact of the Brexit deterring non-U.K. residents from applying for jobs at the chain, The Guardian reported. During the program, the company says that interns will “get exposure to aspects of our business including food production, customer service, social responsibility (care for the homeless), and financial control.”

It wasn’t long until people called out the chain for not paying the interns for work placements, with some even warning of a boycott.



After receiving backlash, Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret, told the Standard that the interns will be paid for the program after all.

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"Pret’s Work Experience Week is not about making sandwiches for free. We set it up so that 16- to18-year-olds can shadow our teams and get a flavor for what working at Pret is like,” Schlee said. "We’ve seen how passionately people feel about the initiative, and in response I would like to confirm that we will pay all participants Pret’s starting hourly rate and of course provide free food as well.”