My youngest sister started her internship this week working for an online clothing hire company. So far she is enjoying it and the people seem nice.
This is an unpaid with part of her expenses paid, as in her travel.
My sister is fortunate enough to also have a weekend job, she’ll be working flat out 6 days, for a few weeks but at the end of it she will hopefully have some insight into the business and a different side to the fashion industry.
The debate of a paid or an unpaid internship is a double-edged sword.
There are many graduates out there who don’t have any other source of income so is it fair to really offer unpaid internships with the promise of gaining work experience that can almost be more valuable than a degree alone? This also then raises the whole class divide with the premise that unpaid internship are accessible by the majority of those who come from wealthy backgrounds.
The other concern is the quality of the internship? Will the responsibilities of the intern allow them to gain an insight to the industry and experience they need to help them find suitable employment when they graduate? Or is it a case of employing an intern and using them as a gopher, a source of free labour?
I don’t doubt there are many companies use interns as both, free labour and also providing them valuable work experience. It’s the ones who take advantage of interns and misuse them that need to be stopped.
Are unpaid internships illegal?
If an intern is to be treated as a full time employee, given responsibilities of a full time employee then should they not be entitled to the wage of a full time employee?
It all depends on the length of the internship and the wording used by the employer. You can find more information on the gov.uk website.
Unpaid internships have been attracting a lot of attention from universities, students, recruiters and the government. On one hand MP’s like many others want the practice of unpaid internship to be paid illegal. Others are proposing to not outright ban this practice as they fear it could do more harm to the career prospects of graduates instead of opting to introduce ‘a charter to ensure fair treatment for young people doing work experience rather than a ban on unpaid internships.’
From a moral standpoint unpaid internships with a small monetary incentive labelled as expenses shouldn’t be allowed but with the employment future for many graduates looking bleak any experience paid or unpaid could be the difference between working in the sector they study three years+ for or ending up in an unskilled job.