On Friday 11th February Interns Anonymous and Intern Aware submitted a joint response to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which regulates MPs Expenses. We considered the legal position of unpaid interns, whether internships hinder social mobility and whether internships are discriminatory.
Calling upon the latest case law, our own surveys and academic research we argue:
- That nearly all Parliamentary interns are performing work and are therefore due the National Minimum Wage.
- That internships exclude too many and shrink the gene pool of those able to work for MPs.
- That since the resources necessary to undertake internships (access to contacts, access to London and access to money) are not equally distributed amongst people from different ethnic backgrounds and those with a disabilities, internships are a form of indirect discrimination. Consequently, any decision to continue to allow unpaid internships is incompatible with IPSA’s obligations under the Equality Act to promote equality of opportunity for all.
Our submission ends by concluding that:
We believe the best way to ensure that politics as a career is open to all and to ensure that MPs have excellent candidates to call upon when recruiting staff is for the present system to be abolished and replaced with paid apprenticeships run over the summer and Easter recesses [so student accommodation can be utilised for those not currently living in London].
To read our submission in full click here: Letter from Intern Aware and Interns Anonymous to IPSA