Overwhelming public support for a 4 week limit to unpaid internships
An overwhelming majority of the British public support Chris’s private members bill which would introduce an amendment to National Minimum Wage legislation to ensure that there would be a four week limit to any unpaid internships or work experience. New polling data, released by the Social Mobility Commission today (Monday 23rd October), has found that 72 per cent of the public back a change in the law – with 42 per cent ‘strongly supporting’ the change.
The YouGov polling of nearly 5,000 people has been released ahead of the second reading of Chris’s private members bill in the House of Lords this Friday (October 27th) which proposes the prohibition of unpaid work experience or internships lasting more than four weeks.
The survey also reveals 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 Social Mobility Commission, a Government-sponsored independent body which monitors progress towards improving social mobility, has repeatedly called for an end to unpaid internships in its successive State of the Nation reports to parliament.
A broad consensus of support has emerged in recent years, including:
· The All Party Parliament Group into Social Mobility has called for a ban on unpaid internships over 4 weeks after hearing evidence on barriers to social mobility.
· In April 2017, the Institute for Public Policy Research published a report which provided new evidence that internships have increased to around 70,000 a year and also recommended “any placement lasting longer than 4 weeks should be banned”. Many times this number – up to half – are locked out of these opportunities because they are unpaid and/or restricted to networks.
· Leading businesses and trade bodies support a four week limit. The Institute of Student Employers, Arts Council, UK Music, Creative Skillset, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Business in the Community, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion and Trust for London all oppose long term unpaid internships.
· The Matthew Taylor review into employment practices recently concluded: “It is clear to us that unpaid internships are an abuse of power by employers and extremely damaging to social mobility.”
· A four week limit is supported by two-thirds of businesses, with only one-in-eight opposing the legislation (YouGov 2014).
The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility 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. Unpaid internships are damaging for social mobility. It is time to consign them to history.”
Chris welcomed the findings saying: “I’m delighted that the vast majority of the public support this straightforward and sensible change to the law. 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.” #payinterns