Chris calls on Govt to end scandal of unpaid internships

Chris’s private members bill to ban unpaid internships is scheduled for second reading in the House of Commons today (23rd November 2018) Chris is calling on the Government to back his bill to end the scandal of unpaid internships.

Also published today new Sutton Trust research finds confusion around the law on interns.
Over a quarter of graduates (27%) have taken on an unpaid internship, with many having to rely on parents, friends and second jobs to get by.

Pay As You Go surveys graduates and employers to get a detailed view, for the first time, of the types of internships that graduates are completing in their first few years in the job market. The research finds that graduate internships appear to be on the rise, with 46% of 21-23 year olds having done one, compared to 37% of 27-29 year olds. Younger graduates are also more likely to have taken on more than one internship.

In many top professions, internships are seen as a requirement before a first job. But previous research by the Sutton Trust found that unpaid internship now costs a single person living in London a minimum of £1,100 per month. The significant costs associated with unpaid internships are shutting many less advantaged young people out of careers. In prestigious industries such as media and the arts (including fashion, theatre and tv), up to 86% of internships on offer are unpaid.

According to today’s report, middle-class graduates are more likely to have taken on an unpaid internship than those from a working class background (29% vs 23%). They were also more likely to have received money from their parents to fund their internships (29% compared to 20% of working class), and have money saved they could draw on (39% compared to 33%). Working class graduates were more likely to take on extra work to fund themselves (31% compared to 25% of those from a middle class background).

The research finds that both graduates and employers are confused about the current law on unpaid internships. Almost half of graduates (47%) thought unpaid internships were ‘legal in most situations’ or didn’t know, while up to 50% of employers incorrectly thought a range of scenarios where an intern was being paid under the national minimum wage were legal.

While doing an internship is associated with higher salaries, there is some evidence that doing multiple unpaid internships may actually have a negative impact on employment and wages. This suggests that many young people in certain industries are being trapped in cycles of unpaid placements without significant benefits to their career. Many internships offer little in the way of training, and are instead focused on completing necessary work for their employer. 70% of employers say that interns do useful work for their business.

The Trust is backing Lord Holmes’ bill and would like to see all internships longer than one month to be paid at least the national minimum wage of £7.05 for 21-24 year olds, and ideally the Living Wage of £9 per hour (£10.55 in London).

In addition, the report recommends that internship positions should be advertised publicly, rather than being filled informally and recruitment process should be fair, transparent and based on merit.

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