The government says it wants to crack down on unpaid internships. But a Tory minister has other plans.
The government recently announced that it plans to crack down on unpaid internships. Housing Minister Dominic Raab has other plans, though, as he’s looking for an unpaid intern to work for him.
Unpaid internships are ‘exploitative’
The Sutton Trust has published research showing that:
of the 10,000 graduates who are in internships 6 months after graduation, 20% are unpaid.
Doing an unpaid internship is pricey. If you’re in London, it’s going to cost you about £1,000 a month. Business minister Andrew Griffiths said:
Employing unpaid interns as workers to avoid paying the national minimum wage is against the law and exploitative. No one should feel like they have to work for free to get the skills and experience they need to get ahead.
That’s why over the last three months, government enforcement teams have been targeting employers advertising for unpaid interns, reminding them of the law and the consequences of breaking it.
The Taylor Review, which examined workers’ rights, points out [pdf, p.91] that:
unpaid internships are an abuse of power by employers and extremely damaging to social mobility.
As part of Theresa May’s ‘Good Work’ plan, there is an aim to eliminate unpaid internships. The purpose of this is to protect the “most vulnerable” and encourage social mobility.
The government is taking a strong position against the practice. But Raab, the Housing Minister, has gone rogue.
This isn’t the first time
The advert on the W4MP website states that the “voluntary” work for the Housing Minister involves coming to Westminster four days a week for up to six months. Raab will reimburse travel expenses. Yet there is no pay for the various duties the “volunteer” will have to do:
Campaigners point out that employers are advertising for voluntary positions in order to avoid paying for the work that is done. In many instances, the worker in question is legally entitled to the minimum wage. W4MP notes in the advert itself that the role is voluntary, and:
As such, there are no set hours and responsibilities and you should be free to come and go as you wish. If the post demands set hours and/or has a specific job description you may be deemed a ‘worker’ and be covered by National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage legislation.
The Canary asked Raab whether the role involves set hours and responsibilities, but he didn’t respond. Previously, he has suggested that the only way he could afford to pay interns would be by sacking other staff.
This also isn’t the first time Raab has sought out an unpaid intern. Last June, he advertised for the same position. If the government is serious about cracking down on unpaid internships, it really needs to have a word with its Housing Minister.
– Join us, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image via screengrab
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.