This Friday will see MP’s debate over whether unpaid internships should be banned, with interns receiving the minimum wage instead. Tory MP Alec Shelbrook, the bill’s sponsor, termed unpaid internships a “scourge on social mobility” as they unfairly favour the better off graduates who can afford to work for free.
Graduates from lower-income families are meanwhile forced into paid work that’s outside of their field, such as retail, giving them non-relevant experience and hence putting them in a less favourable position when it comes to applying for jobs in their desired field.
The National Minimum Wage (Workplace Internships) Bill means that all interns, with the exception of school aged children, apprentices and full-time university and college students, will be paid the minimum wage. When asked whether the bill would stop employers from hiring interns, Shelbrooke said:
“There are a number of businesses such as KMPG, Ernst & Young and Pimlico Plumbers that already offer paid internships, showing that there really is no excuse for profit-making companies not to pay their workforce.”
Speaking to ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Government minister Damian Hinds said:
“In the media, in fashion, in these very sought-after occupations, these unpaid internships aren’t actually accessible to everybody.
“It’s important for social mobility that everybody has a crack at getting into the particularly competitive industries.”