MP calls for prohibition of unpaid internships

MP Alec Shelbrooke.
MP Alec Shelbrooke.

MP for Elmet and Rothwell Alec Shelbrooke introduced a Ten Minute Rule Motion to the House of Commons this week calling for the prohibition of unpaid internships.

Mr Shelbrooke argued that unpaid internships restruct social mobility as they aid young people from wealthy backgrounds who can afford to work for free but restrict entry to the workplace for the majority of young people in the UK.

Campaign group Intern Aware and a number of other Conservative MPs are backing Mr Shelbrooke’s motion and, according to a recent YouGov poll, 43 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds believe unpaid internships act or have acted as a major barrier to getting a job.

With his early working life doing manual labour in engineering factories and as a kitchen and bathroom fitter, Mr Shelbrooke believes unpaid internships should be banned.

He said: “Like most young people at our local comprehensive school, both my sister and I were taught that hard work and determination would help us make something of ourselves in the world of work.

“Our supportive parents made us work part-time jobs around our education, something that taught us the real value of money, something we had to do to run our first cars and something that taught us how to budget; a valuable lesson for later life.

“Unpaid work was simply not an option for me or my sister and it should no longer be a barrier for ordinary kids like we were to get into the workplace.

“In the 21st Century it is time to ban the practice of unpaid labour.”

Mr Shelbrooke’s motion also calls for an amendment to existing National Minimum Wage legislation to redefine the term ‘workers’ and offer greater protections to young people entering the workplace.

The MP said he also wants to see a common sense approach to ensure than no work experience should last longer than four weeks without pay, at which point an individual should become an intern and be paid the national minimum wage as a minimum.