Chris welcomes government crackdown on unpaid internships
Chris welcomed news of a crackdown by the government on employers who use unpaid interns. The government has sent over 550 warning letters to employers and has set up enforcement teams to tackle repeat offenders. HMRC will focus particularly on the media, performing arts, law and accountancy.
Business minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Employing unpaid interns as workers to avoid paying the national minimum wage is against the law and exploitative.
“That’s why over the last three months, government enforcement teams have been targeting employers advertising for unpaid interns, reminding them of the law and the consequences of breaking it.”
Last year Chris introduced a private members bill to prohibit unpaid work experience over four weeks. The purpose of the bill is to provide clarity over an area of employment law that is clearly not well understood or enforced.
The government has maintained that current law is sufficient to prevent unpaid internships because anyone who is defined as a “worker” must be paid minimum wage. However, campaign groups have highlighted that despite the law 70,000 internships are offered annually and a significant proportion of them are unpaid demonstrating that current law is clearly not being enforced.
The government themselves recently admitted that there have been no prosecutions related to interns under existing employment legislation and Chris hopes that this initiative will raise awareness among employers and prevent further abuses.
Chris’s private members bill has had it’s second reading in the House of Lords and is awaiting Committee stage following which it will go to the House of Commons for consideration.
The Sun, Interns Blitz
The Guardian, Initiative to crack down on unpaid internships