Unpaid Internships: The Biggest Step Forward We’ve Seen

17 April, 2015
Hannah Neocleous

Unpaid Internships: The Biggest Step Forward We’ve Seen

17 April, 2015
Unpaid Internships, Labour Manifesto 2015
Finally we are seeing some real traction on the call to end unpaid internships.

Since we began in 2011, Instant Impact have been solidly against the notion of graduates and young adults essentially working for free, and to be honest, even after significant campaigning, nothing momentous has happened as of yet to combat it. However, in anticipation of the upcoming election, Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party has made the promise to limit unpaid internships to four weeks. This will once again balance the books and redefine the definition of an internship as a fair and open route for any graduate embarking on their career.

Why do we need to see the end of unpaid internships? Here are our top four points. 

1) Unpaid Internships are weighted against many graduates- If you can't afford to be financially supported during the period, you haven't got a hope in hell of even clicking the apply button. There are also location disadvantages. It's great if your family home is in London, but if you're born and bred in Birmingham that London internship looks a lot less viable without a penny to rub together for three months.

2) They Are Demoralising- In most circumstances any intern will be going above and beyond to impress their new employee; whether this is to gain a full time position or obtain a stellar reference to continue on with securing a stable job. These forms of reward at the end of the contract should not be seen as a replacement for pay. It takes a certain strength to bust a gut and receive no financial gain when you're working harder than half the office on tidy salaries.

3) They Are Technically Already Illegal- Yes believe it or not. If an intern is brought on by a company for tasks that would otherwise be completed by a current employee: it's against the law. We've seen many businesses being named and shamed and even fined for allowing this to happen.

4) Companies Can Pay You-  At Instant Impact, we will not work with any company that does not pay NMW or London Living Wage. And I can say that we've worked with some of the smallest companies out there! There is absolutely no excuse for companies to exploit this loophole for free labour. It's shocking to see some of the giants getting away with it.

We could probably continue with a hundred more reasons which would highlight just how important this new step forward is. But whatever the outcome in the election and whether Labour win or not, we're very much hoping this is a clear sign to the other parties that unpaid internships are something to be addressed. The response so far from the youth public has been outstanding and if they want to engage with the next generation, they must face, head on, the issues that most affect them.

A message to the new government sworn in this year: Don't sweep it under the rug. We've worked so hard to get here. Let's see fair pay for a fair day's work applying to absolutely everyone in this country, even graduates.


Felix Mitchell is the Director at Instant Impact. To get in touch with your comments and opinions connect with us on social media.

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