Labour MP and former party chair Hazel Blears yesterday introduced a private members' bill in Parliament, aiming to outlaw the advertising of unpaid internships, which she feels exploit young graduates and school leavers.
The bill was introduced to Parliament yesterday under the so-called 'Ten Minute Rule', or Standing Order Number 23 rules, that allow backbench MPs ten minutes to speak to propose a private bill to fellow MPs in the House of Commons.
Ms Blears' bill is seeking to prohibit the advertisement of long-term, unpaid internships.
At the moment, such placements have been deemed illegal, as they are generally considered to flout National Minimum Wage laws by requiring interns to turn up to work and perform a role for no remuneration.
Despite the fact that the posts themselves are illegal in most cases, advertising the roles is not currently outlawed, meaning that the practice of hiring unpaid interns continues unabated.
In introducing the legislation to Parliament, Ms Blears highlighted the plight of typical graduates who see internships of any type as invaluable additions to their CVs in a job market where more than one million 18-24 year-olds are unemployed and jobs are extremely hard to come by.
She cited competitive industries including media, finance, politics and fashion as those that are the worst for hiring and exploiting willing unpaid interns.
Of the latter industry she quipped: "The Devil wears Prada, and the Devil pays nada."
She told the story of Stacy, a young graduate who worked for four months as an unpaid intern at a finance company. The only way to fund her travel into London was to build up debt on a credit card and when the credit ran out she was forced to quit the job.
"Far from thanking her for her contribution, the company was outraged that she had left and gave her a poor reference," said Ms Blears.
The bill has received cross-party support and is expected to sail through Parliament, starting with the second reading in February 2013.
House of Commons Debates 5 December 2012 (House of Commons Hansard Debates)