Listen Live

Unpaid internships: Exploitation or an opportunity to learn?

Internships are an excellent way to empower the youth who are looking for work experience, but is an unpaid internship the right way to go for employers, or is it a form of exploitation?

people workspace team pexels
People Workspace Team, Pexels, https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-meeting-workspace-team-7097/

Listen as Anthony Murphy from The H R Company, a Durban-based HR Consultancy, weighs in on unpaid internships below, or read the details under the podcast. 

We’ve all encountered it before. The intern in the office, or the person who’s come into your office for 'work experience'.

Sometimes it’s a high school student, but more often than not, it’s the person who’s spent hours upon hours of reading and studying. They’ve written exam after exam and spent hundreds of thousands of Rands on education.

Now they’ve written their final exam, they’ve got an internship, but there's a catch - it's unpaid.

Read: KZN woman's top deemed 'inappropriate' for work

This was the case with one anonymous KZN listener who sent us a voice note on the Whatsapp line, sharing a predicament that he currently is in. 

Listen to the podcast below:

Internships are hailed as a great opportunity to gain first-hand experience working in your field of choice, but for free? It's depriving a young graduate of pay, just because you're giving them a 'great opportunity'.

Things are different now compared to when I was an intern. Back then (I'm not saying how long ago), I interned at a travel and tour company. I was an intern and had to make coffee and do basic admin to get work experience. Luckily, work was walking distance from me, so there weren't any travel costs involved. At the end of the three months, I ended up scoring a full-time job. So, it wasn't for nothing, but it doesn't always play out like that for others. 

As an intern, if you’re working the same hours as a full-time employee, doing any service that benefits the company at which you are interning - be it making tea, running errands, taking minutes, drafting reports or, especially, doing the work of an entry-level employee at the company, then you ought to be paid, right?

What are your thoughts? Is an unpaid internship considered a form of modern-day slavery?

Show's Stories