Internships: turning our generation into slaves Watch

SmallDuck
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If you have just graduated from university, then you ought to start earning in order to pay your loan off, considering it could exceed £50k. House prices are sky high, so lots of saving would be needed for a mortgage too.

But no, the vice has been tightened on our generation again. Universities now talk about 'internships', which I understand as usually unpaid labour.

So you have just paid for your education, but have to borrow even more money to cover rent, food, and transport so you can work for a company which gives nothing back to you.

Cameron keeps saying that he wants to end the 'something for nothing' culture for those who live on benefits. Maybe he'd ought to also end the 'something for nothing' culture in the workplace by MAKING WORK PAY.

Think, by working for that company you will be giving it value, and making them profit.

And please don't tell me that you get contacts and experience, as whilst this might be true, a proper job gives you the same things, along with a fair salary. So either way, a job would always be more preferable than an internship (even if it was a v low wage). I know that students can demand a wage if they are there for more than a year... ok, 11 months work for nothing is legal. Great. Much better. Young people need to be shown that there are rewards for hard work.

Work experience for a week, 2 weeks, thats ok, but several months of unpaid work should be illegal.
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Dominic101
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People with good degrees get during for their internships
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tengentoppa
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Then just stick to paid internships, there are plenty out there. If you're being exploited through unpaid work, don't take the job. You can't expect the state to protect you from your own naivety.
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redferry
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I agree - unpaid internships should be illegal unless food and accommodation is provided in my opinion.

They just pave the way for the rich to stay rich by getting all the best jobs as they are the only ones that can afford to do them otherwise.
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phunky_fresh
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I go on a few job boards that don't allow employers to post unpaid work. I would never work to free. I'm working 35 hours a week and you are only giving me £5 a day. How am I paying my electricity bill? Travel? It's ridiculous
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Smack
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(Original post by SmallDuck)
But no, the vice has been tightened on our generation again. Universities now talk about 'internships', which I understand as usually unpaid labour.
That depends on the sector.

Some sectors offer interns fairly decent pay. Others expect them to work unpaid. In my opinion, the sectors that are most guilty about this are the ones that are really looking for people from certain social backgrounds, who will usually have parents that can afford to support them for a year or two whilst they're unpaid.
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FDR
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I absolutely agree with the sentiment of the post; internships should be paid. The only point I disagree with is that I think even 2 week internships should be paid (or at the very least, expenses should be paid - especially if the intern has to travel/find accommodation, and actually contributes something.)

I actually thought that it was law that internships had to be paid - see: https://www.gov.uk/employment-rights-for-interns , and in all fairness, the vast majority of internships I've applied for and come across have not only been paid, but paid fairly well (Just have a look at some of the threads and posts on intern pay in the IB&C forum), but the OP is right, there are also quite big companies out there who make interns work for nothing.

My girlfriend is a pharmacy student, and I was shocked to find out that of the three major pharmacies (Lloyds, Boots, Co-op), only Lloyds pay summer interns (and even then, it's only minimum wage, but at least its something), whilst Boots and Co-op offer unpaid 2 to 4 week placements. For such large companies, I find this really poor form.
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AP1989
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(Original post by FDR)
I absolutely agree with the sentiment of the post; internships should be paid. The only point I disagree with is that I think even 2 week internships should be paid (or at the very least, expenses should be paid - especially if the intern has to travel/find accommodation, and actually contributes something.)

I actually thought that it was law that internships had to be paid - see: https://www.gov.uk/employment-rights-for-interns , and in all fairness, the vast majority of internships I've applied for and come across have not only been paid, but paid fairly well (Just have a look at some of the threads and posts on intern pay in the IB&C forum), but the OP is right, there are also quite big companies out there who make interns work for nothing.

My girlfriend is a pharmacy student, and I was shocked to find out that of the three major pharmacies (Lloyds, Boots, Co-op), only Lloyds pay summer interns (and even then, it's only minimum wage, but at least its something), whilst Boots and Co-op offer unpaid 2 to 4 week placements. For such large companies, I find this really poor form.
That is shocking. Obvs unpaid internships are standard in the charitable sector, but to see that among such large profit driven corporations is unbelievable. I'd like to see how they justify their position, she should write to them.
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Observatory
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The rise of internships has accompanied the tightening of employment law, and specifically the minimum wage. Hiring someone means taking on a lot of liabilities that can produce a major loss if that person turns out to be no good. In the past it was possible to hire employees on very low pay as a trial; the wage was essentially unliveable but the understanding was that good employees would be promoted and bad employees would leave. The minimum wage outlawed this so internships have bifurcated: those which can afford to pay the minimum wage or above, and do so, and that that cannot afford the minimum wage, which therefore pay nothing.

Responding to this with more employment laws will have further perverse side effects. In particular if employers cannot trial employees at all, hiring will become in practice even more strongly based on relationships and contacts. I would rather go the other way than introduce more nepotism.
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Observatory
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(Original post by redferry)
I agree - unpaid internships should be illegal unless food and accommodation is provided in my opinion.

They just pave the way for the rich to stay rich by getting all the best jobs as they are the only ones that can afford to do them otherwise.
And yet that's actually not what we observe. The best paid professions (medicine, banking, accountancy, engineering, etc.) are very generous with their internships. Banking internships pay >£40k pro rata. Instead, we see that low paid jobs are overwhelmingly the ones connected to zero-pay internships. This suggests that it's the minimum wage which is pricing these interns out of the market, resulting in the work-around of technically voluntary work that in practice is required to be considered for a permanent post.
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SmallDuck
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(Original post by Smack)
That depends on the sector.

Some sectors offer interns fairly decent pay. Others expect them to work unpaid. In my opinion, the sectors that are most guilty about this are the ones that are really looking for people from certain social backgrounds, who will usually have parents that can afford to support them for a year or two whilst they're unpaid.
I still think that is wrong. Young people should be earning their own money, they can't live off mum and dad forever.
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SmallDuck
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(Original post by Observatory)
The rise of internships has accompanied the tightening of employment law, and specifically the minimum wage. Hiring someone means taking on a lot of liabilities that can produce a major loss if that person turns out to be no good. In the past it was possible to hire employees on very low pay as a trial; the wage was essentially unliveable but the understanding was that good employees would be promoted and bad employees would leave. The minimum wage outlawed this so internships have bifurcated: those which can afford to pay the minimum wage or above, and do so, and that that cannot afford the minimum wage, which therefore pay nothing.

Responding to this with more employment laws will have further perverse side effects. In particular if employers cannot trial employees at all, hiring will become in practice even more strongly based on relationships and contacts. I would rather go the other way than introduce more nepotism.
I understand your point, trialling for 1 month max should be ok, but working for nearly a year unpaid should not be allowed.
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SmallDuck
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(Original post by FDR)
I absolutely agree with the sentiment of the post; internships should be paid. The only point I disagree with is that I think even 2 week internships should be paid (or at the very least, expenses should be paid - especially if the intern has to travel/find accommodation, and actually contributes something.)

I actually thought that it was law that internships had to be paid - see: https://www.gov.uk/employment-rights-for-interns , and in all fairness, the vast majority of internships I've applied for and come across have not only been paid, but paid fairly well (Just have a look at some of the threads and posts on intern pay in the IB&C forum), but the OP is right, there are also quite big companies out there who make interns work for nothing.

My girlfriend is a pharmacy student, and I was shocked to find out that of the three major pharmacies (Lloyds, Boots, Co-op), only Lloyds pay summer interns (and even then, it's only minimum wage, but at least its something), whilst Boots and Co-op offer unpaid 2 to 4 week placements. For such large companies, I find this really poor form.
You are right to a certain extent. the laws have tightened, but employers are still not required to pay interns if they work for less than a year.

"Students required to do an internship for less than 1 year as part of a UK-based further or higher education course aren’t entitled to theNational Minimum Wage."
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Key123
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(Original post by arson_fire)
Funny how the biggest culprits seem to be the so-called socially responsible charity sector.
Which constantly struggle for funding and need interns to survive. I don't think that's funny at all.


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Crumpet1
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The legal position is this: all work should be paid at least at National Minimum Wage unless it falls within one of four exceptions:

1. Work shadowing: the individual is shadowing people who are doing useful work, they are not doing real and valuable work themselves. Most short-term work experience falls into this category but if it is long-term it is hard to see how the individual would not be doing real work of value.

2. Voluntary workers: this requires the receiving employer to fall into one of a very narrow sector - e.g. charities, statutory bodies. The placement can be long-term, and the work performed can be real and valuable, because the individual is volunteering for a charity.

3. Volunteers: the individual can be doing real and valuable work, but they are under no compulsion to attend either on specific days/times, or at all. Their attendance is strictly voluntary and there can be no sanction against them if they decide not to attend one day for any reason.

4. Sandwich students: the student is attending work experience for a period of up to one year, as part of a requirement for their further education or higher education course.

If the scenario falls outside any of the four exceptions above, then failing to pay National Minimum Wage is unlawful. In particular, individuals who are required to attend at particular times and who are performing real and valuable work, fall into neither the volunteer nor the work shadowing categories, so (unless the employer is a charity/statutory body), National Minimum Wage is due.

The issue is that students accept internships that break the law, because they are desperate. Please - don't do this. Bring cases, report these employers to HMRC (which is responsible for enforcing the NMW).
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redferry
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(Original post by Observatory)
And yet that's actually not what we observe. The best paid professions (medicine, banking, accountancy, engineering, etc.) are very generous with their internships. Banking internships pay >£40k pro rata. Instead, we see that low paid jobs are overwhelmingly the ones connected to zero-pay internships. This suggests that it's the minimum wage which is pricing these interns out of the market, resulting in the work-around of technically voluntary work that in practice is required to be considered for a permanent post.
Journalism - not low paid
Politics - not low paid
Research - not low paid

All of these are overwhelmingly governed by unpaid internships
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Crumpet1
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(Original post by SmallDuck)
You are right to a certain extent. the laws have tightened, but employers are still not required to pay interns if they work for less than a year.

"Students required to do an internship for less than 1 year as part of a UK-based further or higher education course aren’t entitled to theNational Minimum Wage."
Not quite right in the detail ... see my post above for full details of the four exceptions. In the one year case, it has to be a requirement of the course, it can't just be any random internship.
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russellsteapot
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I think there's certainly something wrong with the culture of unpaid internships, but more to do with the idea that they're somehow 'normal'. Are they expected/required to make it into some industries? I can understand if someone would choose to do an unpaid internship in a difficult/small field (e.g. a charity, or media) but are the opportunities in the big fields really so limited that people would choose an internship over proper work experience? And do some universities force internships as part of the course?

I think you have to balance it on the company's side. They're offering training and experience, and internships probably cost them money. If they had to pay, maybe they just wouldn't bother with interns. It isn't like interns are bringing unique skills in, they're usually young kids who've never had a job before and probably don't have a whole lot of value to the company in many industries.

I don't agree with making companies pay. I would agree with encouraging them to do so, maybe publicly, but force it and you'll probably just see a reduction in internships. Which might not be a bad thing.
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Crumpet1
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(Original post by redferry)
Journalism - not low paid
Politics - not low paid
Research - not low paid

All of these are overwhelmingly governed by unpaid internships
And most of which are unlawful. We are relying on them being reported in order to make public examples of those employers.
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redferry
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(Original post by Crumpet1)
And most of which are unlawful. We are relying on them being reported in order to make public examples of those employers.
I didn't know they were unlawful.

Charities are the biggest culprits but it shocks me the amount of actual businesses that have adverts for unpaid internships. I was looking for jobs for my bf the other day and people were looking for unpaid statisticians and all sorts. So depressing.
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