Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE has been attempting to increase social mobility by changing the law through a Private Members Bill that aims to limit any unpaid work experience or internship to four weeks. Chris is committed to shining a spotlight on the impact of unpaid internships and is doing all he can to change the current culture across industries where it is common practice for employers to insist on having young people give of their time, efforts and labour for no return. Chris’s commitment to improving social mobility and above all, increasing equality of opportunity, informs much of his work in the lords.
Covid-19 has had quite a significant impact on the private members’ bill and Chris is still working with organisations to make sure he is still building a coalition across the public and private sector, making more and more people aware of the private members’ bill. Certainly, one casualty of Covid 19 is that all private members legislation has been seized which means everything has been pushed back, where originally the date of the second reading (which is the first major stage of the legislation process) was spring/early summer it is now far more likely to be mid-autumn. However, this means Chris is able to use this time to raise awareness and gain a wider audience and consider other ways to push the agenda.
In a fragile graduate market, the cohort of final year students will enter a jobs market turned upside down by the pandemic and there are rising concerns about the pressure on graduates to work for free. Tanya de Grunwald, founder of the Good + Fair Employers club believes coronavirus is enabling employers to jump through loopholes and rebadge free work as a civic duty. Tanya states “It always ends up as survival of the fittest in times like this – my hope is that enough big employers have done good work in this area and behave themselves.” Thus, Josie Dobrin, Chief executive of Creative Access, a social enterprise supporting people from under-represented backgrounds into creative jobs, says “I’ve seen people talk about volunteering for roles that are staff jobs. They know that if they are volunteering it will look good on their CV.”
When asked about these concerns, Chris puts it very simply “In terms of the future of unpaid internships, there will certainly be opportunities for businesses to operate in a way to seek to exploit individuals through loopholes. But the reality is when we come back, even more so, the future is going to be about talent. Having the best people you can get, having them motivated in an inclusive, enabling and empowering environment. Whilst yes, there is always the opportunity for exploitation, undoubtedly some small organisations, small and large will take that, that’s not the way to be a successful organisation, to move out of this pandemic whatsoever.”
Read Chris’s website to find out more about his work on the ban of unpaid internships: