Should Internships be Paid?

An attempt in Parliament to ban unpaid internships was blocked last November but new research by the Social Mobility Commission suggests there is strong public support for the bill.

Three quarters of the 5,000 people surveyed said they backed a ban on unpaid internships lasting four weeks or more. Many interns already fall under the legal definition of a “worker”, a person who has a contract or arrangement to do work, and are entitled to the national minimum wage.

But Lord Holmes of Richmond said existing laws were clearly not working, given that more and more professions and trades were requiring unpaid work experience when it comes to securing a job.

In April, a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research found the number of internships had risen by 50% since 2010. Research by the Sutton Trust, which works to improve social mobility, found nearly a third of graduate interns are unpaid. It estimated a six month unpaid internship in London would cost someone £5,556.

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