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Why Unpaid Internships Matter

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.

Why unpaid internships are illegal

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.