Government upping efforts to get rid of unpaid Internships
I hope everyone has had a good week. Everyone in the office has been busy in the evenings this week, with Pancake Day on Tuesday and Valentines Day on Wednesday. Did you make any pancakes? Or maybe you went out for a meal on Wednesday? Let us know what you did in the comments.
Onto the blog for this week, we will be looking at how the government has upped their efforts to get rid of unpaid internships. Last month it was estimated that 40% of 70,000 internships undertaken were unpaid. According to the law, any interns that are classed as workers must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage. A worker would be “someone who has a contract or is subject to sanctions if they do not turn up for work” (not including genuine volunteers). No prosecutions have been made in relation to interns and the minimum wage yet, as employment law is not being enforced properly, but with the government stepping up, this could change.
Over the last few months, the government has been stepping up to sort the issue with HM Revenue and Customs writing to more than 500 firms reminding them that any interns classed as workers must be paid minimum wage. The government stated that they are working to remove exploitive unpaid internships as they should not exist. The government also stated: “We will take action to improve the interpretation of the law and the enforcement action taken by HMRC in this area to help stamp out illegal unpaid internships”. If the current approach does not work, the government will be “reviewing the existing policy and legal framework and will consider what other action can be taken”.
With unpaid internships, some candidates are at a disadvantage, as an internship may be the only path to take to get into the industry they want to work in, in the future. Individuals can potentially miss out on these opportunities as they cannot afford to take on a position unpaid. It is said that young workers need at least £1,019 per month when living in London and £827 when living in Manchester. This may leave some candidates at a disadvantage if they have no other financial support.
With the government starting to step up to resolve this issue, hopefully in the near future we will see an improvement on internships and hope to see the number of unpaid internships drop and eventually disappear. What is your opinion on unpaid internships? Do you think internships should be paid or unpaid? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.
Have a great weekend!