Labour vow crackdown on unpaid internships

liam byrne

Liam Byrne, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Universities, Skills and Science, will make a speech tomorrow announcing that Labour would crackdown on the use of unpaid internships. According to The Independent, Byrne will say that under Labour companies will not be able to hire unpaid interns for a period of more than four weeks. After that, interns will have to be paid at least the minimum wage.

Byrne will say: “Labour thinks the law should change so interns get paid the minimum wage once they’ve been on the job for a month.”

Research has found that companies often go on to employ those who have previously worked for them as interns. Yet with the average internship lasting three months, many without pay, Labour believe this is locking out those who cannot afford to work for free from many career paths. “The result is that the best jobs are getting locked up by those with the richest parents. That isn’t right. It isn’t fair. And it needs to change,” Byrne will say.

Although unpaid internships can be legal, those which include set hours and tasks are not. Byrne highlights the recent rise in the use of unpaid internships as the reason for Labour’s attempt to impose greater limits on them:

“The biggest change in the professional jobs market has been the boom in unpaid internships. There are now around 100,000 internship opportunities a year, most in London and many unpaid.”

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, chaired by Alan Milburn, has advised that unpaid internships be made entirely illegal by 2020, and Labour’s announcement could be an initial step on this route.

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