Government to take action on unpaid internships, minister reveals

Posted On: 
30th October 2016

The Government is looking at cracking down on unpaid internships in order to boost social mobility. 

Unpaid internships for media firms are one of the areas being studied
PA Images

Ministers confirmed they were studying options to make placements “fair to everybody”, with a particular emphasis on industries like media and fashion.

Work and Pensions minister Damian Hinds told ITV’s Peston on Sunday show: “It is important that young people have an opportunity to get work experience. One of the big barriers to getting a job is not having had employment experience, and so there is a role for work experience.

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“But I think particularly in the media, in fashion, in these very sought-after occupations, there is a concern with unpaid internships, those aren’t actually accessible to everybody and I think it is right that we look at it.”

The Mail on Sunday reported this morning that firms could be required to pay at least the minimum wage to all school leavers and graduates.

Mr Hinds refused to be drawn on “exactly what the formulation” would be, but that the Government wanted to “make sure that access to these sought-after industries is fair”.

“It is part of making sure we are fair to everybody, and for social mobility,” he added.  

“It is important for social mobility that everybody has a crack at getting into the particularly competitive industries.”

The newspaper reports that the Government could introduce a bill addressing internships in next year’s Queen’s Speech.

Conservative backbencher Alec Shelbrooke welcomed the prospect of action.

He said: “Unpaid internships are a scourge on social mobility. If we’re serious about building a Britain that works for everyone and not just the privileged few, then it’s time to end this exploitation of young workers. 

“It’s time to ban unpaid internships and make firms pay workers for their labour.”