Hazel Blears (Labour MP for Salford and Ecclestone) has introduced a private members bill looking to regulate internships. The regulations will look to prohibit the advertising of long-term unpaid internships and regulate conditions of employment for paid internships.
Blears commented in her speech to parliament (which can be found here – please see column 916) that “long-term, unpaid internships are a modern-day scandal, and they are rife in the very areas where so many young people are desperate to get a foothold.” She also referred to legislation in France whereby work experience is limited to 8 weeks, after which a person automatically becomes a paid intern. Blears is suggesting a similar model in the UK, but with a shorter period of 4-6 weeks after which an intern is paid.
There has been much debate over whether interns are entitled to be paid National Minimum Wage (NMW). Government guidance indicates that “work shadowing” which does not involve any work being performed will not qualify for the NMW. However, a placement that may lead to an offer of permanent or paid work on completion could qualify for NMW. This does not assist with employers who wish to be certain on whether they should or should not pay an intern NMW. The new regulations could clear up this matter for employers once and for all.
We will keep you updated on the progress of the bill.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected]).