There has been strong public support to ban unpaid internships and work experiences that lasts more than four weeks. A poll of 5,000 people has been published ahead of the second reading of the Lords Bill which would end the practice. Three quarters of people who took part in the poll backed the change in the law to prevent organisations from exploiting unpaid interns.
Internships are a popular route for individuals to take to get a full-time job afterwards. There are an estimated 50,000-70,000 internships offered in the UK and 10,000-15,000 are unpaid. The number of internships in the UK has risen by 50% since 2010.
For the majority of individuals, unpaid internships are used as stepping stones into jobs and they have become the main route for graduates to secure their first job. In reality, unpaid internships are a financial block for those who cannot afford to work for nothing. As a result, it leaves young people without the opportunity to gain valuable experience that an internship can offer, because they cannot afford to work for free.
The practice is clearly discriminatory to those who cannot work for free. Also it is noted that the majority of internships are based in London, which is discriminatory to those don’t live there or who cannot afford to live there. Unpaid internships and work experiences positions can also result in a loss of creativity and competitiveness amongst young people looking for experience, leaving some individuals missing out on a good career opportunity and equally employers miss out from a wider pool of talent.
Graduates are especially vulnerable in terms of their finances as they will be at some point paying off all the debt created from university, therefore it is an unfair disadvantage for a business to use their skills and knowledge for free.
The Private Members Bill has recently been introduced, which would mean that after an individual has worked at an organisation for more than a month, the National Minimum Wage would apply. This will hopefully put an end to the “modern scandal” however, it will need the governments backing.
If you need advice or have any questions regarding internships or work experiences best practice, please contact a member of the HPC team…
T: 0844 800 5932