You might have caught it on the news or in the paper but on Tuesday, for the first time in Parliament, MPs held a debate on unpaid internships. The issue had ever been voted on before, but MPs divided 181-19 in favour of an end unpaid internships. This was a huge victory and very exciting for the campaign!
Internships are an increasingly common entry-level path into a wide range of industries. Here, we would like to offer you what we deem as a minimum standard that businesses should legally and morally hold themselves to when taking on interns.
MPs love to talk about social mobility. All of the three main parties claim they want to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds get the jobs they deserve. If only they practised what they preached. Too many Members of Parliament advertise for unpaid internships. They are unfair and may well be illegal.
STATEMENT FROM DODS/POLITICSHOME
A spokesman for Dods has issued the following statement:
“PoliticsHome takes extremely seriously the defamatory allegations made by Intern Aware. We do not break the law with our intern policy, nor do we treat them unfairly in any way.
Courtesy of the BBC. A look at unpaid internships from the BBC Two Documentary - Who Gets the Best Jobs?
Credits: Presenter - Richard Bilton Director - Dai Richards Producer - Lil Cranfield Executive Producer -Ruth Pitt
Unpaid internships are impeding social mobility, leaving school leavers and graduates in a catch 22 situation where they are 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. This harms social mobility and undercuts the majority of businesses that operate good practices.
Unpaid internships aren’t just wrong; in most cases they are illegal. Underemployment law, people who work set hours, do set tasks, and contribute value to an organisation are “workers” and are entitled to the minimum wage. This means even if your internship was just about being expected to turn up at a certain time and add some numbers in Excel you are likely to be entitled to pay. And as it is impossible to sign away your rights, even if you have agreed to work without pay you can still claim. Every time an intern has taken their employer to court for not being paid the minimum wage they have won.