Friday, 21 June 2013

Campaign To Make Sure Interns Get Paid Backed By Cambridge MP

Cambridge MP Huppert
A cross-party campaign calling on politicians to pay all interns working in their offices has been backed by Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.

Julian attended the Parliamentary launch of Let’s Get Our House In Order and promised to continue paying any intern he takes on in his offices in Westminster and his Cambridge constituency.

The campaign is designed to ensure that young people from poorer backgrounds have the same opportunities as those who can afford to take long-term unpaid internships.

Julian said: “We need to send a strong message that long-term unpaid internships should be a thing of the past if we are to give everyone the same opportunity.

“If we are not setting an example how can we call on businesses and other organisations to pay their young people? Anyone who works set hours and has set responsibilities should be entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage.”

Julian employs interns, who are paid at the Living Wage, and an apprentice in his Cambridge constituency office and has offered a teenager a nine-month position in his Westminster office under a Social Mobility Fund programme, to help people from more diverse backgrounds work in Parliament.

He said: “Many politicians began their careers working as unpaid interns before going on to get a permanent jobs; but these internships are largely restricted to young people who can afford to live and work for free supported by their parents.

“It is simply unfair that those people who are not in this position don’t have the same opportunities and we need to change that.”

Ben Lyons from Intern Aware, the campaign for fair internships, said: “We are really pleased to see Julian support this campaign.

“Unpaid internships exclude the vast majority of young people who can’t afford to work for free. It is wrong that too many employers recruit based on the wealth of an intern’s parents rather than their aptitude and willingness to work hard.”

In the last couple of months online recruitment websites Monster and Total Jobs have both pledged to stop advertising long-term unpaid internships.

Over the last year more than 26,000 workers were paid back a total of £4m after action by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which enforces National Minimum Wage laws. Some of the 1,693 complaints related to unpaid internships but campaigners say more needs to be done.