Long-term unpaid internships could soon be made illegal

Charlie Benson
Content Marketing Executive

A bill will be discussed in the House of Lords this week that could mark the end of long-term unpaid internships. 

The Private Members' Bill, introduced by Lord Chris Holmes, will have its second reading in the House on Friday 27 October. If passed, a 4-week limit will be placed on unpaid work experience - with companies being legally required to pay interns after their first month of work. 

As all graduates know, making that first step on the career ladder in a competitive job market is tough. For many, taking on unpaid work in order to gain experience and skills can seem like a necessary evil. 

However, unpaid internships are by no means accessible to everyone and tend to mean that young people who have connections, and the financial means to work full-time for no pay, get ahead of those who cannot do the same.

As Lord Holmes writes in a recent article on the subject, "if [unpaid work experience] is available only for those who can afford to work for free then it entrenches privilege and limits social mobility." 




Now, new research has found the majority of the British public would support a ban on unpaid internships. 

A report released this week by the Social Mobility Commission finds that 72% of the public support a change in the law. Of the almost 5,000 people they surveyed, a further 42% are 'strongly supporting' a ban.

The commission is calling for an end to unpaid internships, which Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, described as "a modern scandal which must end." 

He added, "Internships are the new rung on the career ladder. They have become a route to a good professional job. But access to them tends to depend on who, not what you know and young people from low-income backgrounds are excluded because they are unpaid. They miss out on a great career opportunity and employers miss out from a wider pool of talent.

"Unpaid internships are damaging for social mobility. It is time to consign them to history." 



Following the release of the study, many have taken to Twitter to share their opinions about and experiences of unpaid internships.  

With many people speaking out, using the #payinterns hashtag, this long-needed change could soon take effect.