UK employers urged to treat interns more fairly UK employers urged to treat interns more fairly

UK employers urged to treat interns more fairly
13 Feb 2018

UK employers are being urged to pay interns the National Minimum Wage, advertise positions publicly and make the recruitment process fairer.

Research by charity The Sutton Trust found youngsters from less affluent backgrounds could not afford to take up unpaid work experience.

Higher-priced rents coupled with inflation cost a single person living in London at least £1,019 (US$1,407) per month, according to The Trust’s Internships – Unpaid, unadvertised, unfair report. Taking up a six-month internship in London would cost £6,114 (US$8,438) on average, while the same-length placement in Manchester would be £4,965 (US$6,853) or £827 (US$1,141) per month.

Unpaid internships were taken up by about 10,000 graduates six months after graduating from university, but about 40% of the youngsters undertaking an internship were not paid, the research revealed.

The study also indicated that many internships were not advertised widely, which disadvantages candidates from low- and middle-income families who may not have access to ‘the right kind’ of connections. Although there are 70,000 interns in the UK at any one time, just 11,000 of the positions were advertised online last year.

The Sutton Trust likewise highlighted that, despite minimum wage legislation which makes many unpaid internships illegal, the law is not properly enforced. As a result, there have been no recorded prosecutions to date.

Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “All internships over four weeks should be paid at least the minimum wage of £7.50 (US$10.37) per hour. Failure to do so prevents young people from low- and moderate-income backgrounds from accessing jobs in some of the most desirable sectors such as journalism, fashion, the arts and politics.”

He added that, although internship positions should always be advertised publicly, large numbers of internships were instead offered through informal networks.

“This practice locks out young people without connections,” he warned. “Also, the process by which potential candidates are selected for internships should uphold the same standards of recruitment as for other jobs.”

A bill going through Parliament at the moment is intended to tighten up minimum wage legislation and ban unpaid internships that last for more than four weeks.

Gill Oliver

Gill Oliver is a business and property journalist who has written for The Daily Mail/Mail Online's This is Money, The Press Association and many national and regional newspapers and magazines.

UK employers are being urged to pay interns the National Minimum Wage, advertise positions publicly and make the recruitment process fairer.

Research by charity The Sutton Trust found youngsters from less affluent backgrounds could not afford to take up unpaid work experience.

Higher-priced rents coupled with inflation cost a single person living in London at least £1,019 (US$1,407) per month, according to The Trust’s Internships – Unpaid, unadvertised, unfair report. Taking up a six-month internship in London would cost £6,114 (US$8,438) on average, while the same-length placement in Manchester would be £4,965 (US$6,853) or £827 (US$1,141) per month.

Unpaid internships were taken up by about 10,000 graduates six months after graduating from university, but about 40% of the youngsters undertaking an internship were not paid, the research revealed.

The study also indicated that many internships were not advertised widely, which disadvantages candidates from low- and middle-income families who may not have access to ‘the right kind’ of connections. Although there are 70,000 interns in the UK at any one time, just 11,000 of the positions were advertised online last year.

The Sutton Trust likewise highlighted that, despite minimum wage legislation which makes many unpaid internships illegal, the law is not properly enforced. As a result, there have been no recorded prosecutions to date.

Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “All internships over four weeks should be paid at least the minimum wage of £7.50 (US$10.37) per hour. Failure to do so prevents young people from low- and moderate-income backgrounds from accessing jobs in some of the most desirable sectors such as journalism, fashion, the arts and politics.”

He added that, although internship positions should always be advertised publicly, large numbers of internships were instead offered through informal networks.

“This practice locks out young people without connections,” he warned. “Also, the process by which potential candidates are selected for internships should uphold the same standards of recruitment as for other jobs.”

A bill going through Parliament at the moment is intended to tighten up minimum wage legislation and ban unpaid internships that last for more than four weeks.

Gill Oliver

Gill Oliver is a business and property journalist who has written for The Daily Mail/Mail Online's This is Money, The Press Association and many national and regional newspapers and magazines.

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