Unpaid internships could be banned to help increase inclusivity and give more young people the chance to get ahead in the workplace.
The employment minister, Damien Hinds, confirmed that the government will review unpaid internships as part of Theresa May’s initiative to help those from working class backgrounds.
Hinds told ITV’s Peston on Sunday, “I think it is important that young people have an opportunity to get work experience.”
“One of the big barriers to getting a job is not having had employment experience and so there is a role for work experience.”
“But I think particularly in the media, in fashion, in these very sought-after occupations, there is a concern…that with unpaid internships those aren’t actually accessible to everybody and I think it is right that we look at it.”
“It is part of making sure that we are fair to everybody…it is important for social mobility that everybody has a crack at getting into…the particularly competitive industries.”
“It’s also about making sure that children at school have access to and are guided towards subjects that are going to help them.”
“It’s about the apprenticeship programme; it’s about a whole raft of things.”
Conservative MP, Alec Shelbrooke will introduce the bill to ban unpaid internships to the House of Commons this week, but it MPs have already warned that it is unlikely to be passed.
Instead, campaigners are hoping that changes to legislation could be reviewed in the next Queen’s speech.
Former Prime Minister, David Cameron previously rejected calls for a ban on unpaid internships during his time in office. He argued that he himself had gained from completing unpaid internships.
Employment lawyer at law firm Dentons, Victoria Albon has also warned of the implications of this Bill for businesses who use interns. Albon, associate in the employment team said, “”The employment status of voluntary interns is not always clear. Many will already be ‘workers’ or even ’employees’ and are already entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage. Should the National Minimum Wage (Workplace Internships) Bill become law, all interns will fall into one of these categories.
“Companies who currently make use of voluntary internships should consider the costs to their business of continuing to do so, and whether they want to make any changes to the roles in light of the legislation. They should also review their arrangements with interns to determine whether they are likely to be employees or workers. Employees receive greater legal protection than workers, so the distinction is an important one.”
Internships are not currently regulated by any body or schemes and the laws on internships are not widely known. However, if an employer agrees to pay an intern, then it is likely that they are entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage. If the employer has made no commitment to pay the intern, then it is highly likely that they have no right to be paid.