A bid to ban unpaid work experience lasting longer than four weeks will be launched in parliament next week when Labour Member of Parliament Alex Cunningham opens the debate on his Private Member Bill.
The Bill, which will have its Second Reading on 27th March, will stop employers being able to advertise and offer work experience opportunities or internships that exceed a month in length. The practice has long been criticised by social mobility organisations as it reserves valuable experience only for those who can afford to work for long periods of time for no pay, and exploits workers who are often doing work for free for profitable organisations rather than simply gaining experience.
Speaking about his Bill, the Stockton North MP said:
“This has been a recurring issue, and one that many politicians from all parties agree is in direct opposition to the principle of social mobility and only benefits those who can afford to work for free.
“This Bill would tell organisations that the days of them expecting unpaid workers to do the work of regular employee for months on end with no pay are over.
“This is also about levelling the playing field. A cap on the amount of unpaid work you can do means those from less wealthy backgrounds still have a fair shot. These are valuable opportunities – but they can’t just be for those that can work for no pay.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously indicated his support for the Bill when a similar proposition was put to the House by Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke last year. During questions in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said that he endorsed Shelbrooke’s campaign to ban unpaid work experience. Alex has written seeking the Prime Minister’s support for the Bill but there is no word yet on whether Government MPs will back it when the vote takes place in Parliament next Friday.