Commission calls for an end to unpaid internships

31 October 2014

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AMONG the recommendations of the latest report of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission is the abolition of unpaid internships, "through legislation if necessary", by 2020.

It describes the growth in internships - more than a quarter of employers use unpaid interns - as "the biggest change in the professional labour market over recent years". "All too often they are", it says, "recruited on the basis of who, not what, you know" and "lock out talent from entering a chosen career". In future, they should be "openly advertised and fairly paid".

A poll of businesses conducted by YouGov for Intern Aware found that 65 per cent would welcome a ban on unpaid internships of more than four weeks.

Last week, Christian organisations responded to a request for information about their internships.

The think tank Theos says that it pays interns the London Living Wage. A spokeswoman said that this was in place "to open up access to as wide a pool of applicants as possible, and secondly to recognise the valuable contribution interns make to our organisation while they're with us".

The Evangelical Alliance confirmed that it paid "at least the living wage" to interns.

Tearfund said that internships were a part-time form of voluntary work, designed to enable those that undertook them to continue paid employment. Travel costs were paid.

Christian Aid offers a ten-month intern programme. This includes a weekly subsistence living allowance. Accommodation, travel costs, utilities, and bills are covered, and interns are supported in finding suitable accommodation.

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