Public backs ban on unpaid internships

young-intern-listening-to-her-employer, work placements

The public has come out in support of banning unpaid internships that last more than four weeks, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by the Social Mobility Commission, found that three out of four members of the public supported a change in the law regarding unpaid internships.

Currently, although many interns fall under the definition of ‘worker’ and are legally entitled to be paid the minimum wage, the law is not being enforced effectively.

A lack of clarity means many companies exploit the loophole or are unaware of the legal requirements to pay interns.

The research revealed that 72 per cent backed a change in the law – with 42 per cent ‘strongly supporting’ a ban.

The survey also revealed that 80 per cent of people want companies to be required to openly advertise internships and work experience opportunities, rather than organise them informally.

The survey comes ahead of the second reading of Lord Holmes of Richmond’s Private Member’s Bill in the House of Lords on 27 October, which proposes a ban on unpaid work experience or internships lasting more than four weeks.

The Social Mobility Commission, an independent public body which monitors progress towards improving social mobility, has repeatedly called for a ban in its State of the Nation reports to Parliament.

Former Labour cabinet member, Alan Milburn, who chairs the commission, said, “Unpaid internships are a modern scandal which must end.”

“Internships are the new rung on the career ladder.”

“They have become a route to a good professional job, but access to them tends to depend on who not what you know and young people from low income backgrounds are excluded because they are unpaid.”

“They miss out on a great career opportunity and employers miss out from a wider pool of talent.”

Lord Holmes of Richmond added, “Unpaid internships leave young people in a catch-22 situation; unable to get a job because they haven’t got experience and unable to get experience because they can’t afford to work for free.”

“The practice is clearly discriminatory, crushes creativity and competitiveness and holds individuals and our country back.”

“It’s time we consigned them to the past, to the novels of Dickens.”

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.
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