07 November 2016
Minister for Business Margot James has said the Taylor review into employment law will include an investigation into unpaid internships, but government support for restrictions on the practice does not look promising after Tory MPs filibustered a Private Members’ Bill on the matter.
The National Minimum Wage (Workplace Internships) Bill was put forth by Conservative Party MP Alec Shelbrooke, who argued that unpaid internships were more accessible to wealthy candidates and therefore provided the rich with greater opportunities than the poor. Shadow Minister for Business Gill Furniss said that Labour supported the Bill.
But the issue was talked out by Margot James, who spoke for 25 minutes; and Tory colleagues David Nuttall and Philip Davies, who spoke for 67 and 66 minutes respectively.
Gill Furniss said the current system “is rigged in favour of those who can afford it … most young people across the country, cannot afford to work for nothing”.
“Careers in law, medicine, the media, fashion, finance and the arts are all beyond the reach of some of our brightest and our best. Those careers are monopolised by the children of the wealthy, who can support them through months of unpaid work, while those from more modest backgrounds are shut out.”
“It is not just social mobility that suffers; by denying opportunities to so many young people, businesses are missing out on hiring real talent, simply because of that talent’s background.
“There is, of course, also the simple moral imperative to ensure that someone doing a fair day’s work receives a fair day’s wage.”