New hotline for unpaid interns will 'name and shame' businesses

A new phoneline will give unpaid interns the opportunity to report the businesses they work for.

Intern hotline

The hotline, set up by the National Union of Students and pressure group Intern Aware, will collect information that is then used to name those businesses.

The NUS says the groups will release the information in the weeks preceding the election in order to pressure all parties to “include firm commitments to tackle the practice in their manifestos.”

According to figures from the Sutton Trust, an expenses-only internship in London costs the average young person £926 a month. The Trust said that around a third of graduate internships are unpaid.

Chris Hares, campaign manager at Intern Aware, said: “Political parties of all sides need to get a grip on this situation, and act in the best interests of young people and businesses alike. In fact, two-thirds of businesses have said they would welcome clarity in the law on internships. Most recognise that unpaid internships are actually damaging to businesses, as they only allow them to select talented young people from a limited pool of people who can afford to work for free.

“A step change could be achieved by a four week limit, which is supported by NUS as well as a range of business leaders, universities, and organisations.”

NUS President Toni Pearce said: “We know that it is really difficult for people to come forward as they may feel their own career could be jeopardised by naming and shaming. However we need to stand together to tackle the practice of unpaid internships, and I would urge everyone to remember we will treat all callers confidentially.”

What do you think? Are unpaid internships fair? Let us know in the comments.