Call for companies that don’t pay interns to be exposed

Plumbing entrepreneur Charlie Mullins believes employers not paying interns is 'tantamount to slavery' and offending companies should be named and shamed for exploiting young people.

Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers, has expressed his views ahead of Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke introducing a private members bill in Parliament this Friday (November 4th), calling for a ban on unpaid internships.

The entrepreneur, who claims to always pays interns working in his London-based business, also believes that not paying interns puts those young people from less well-off backgrounds at a disadvantage.

According to a recent YouGov poll, 43 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds believe unpaid internships act or have acted as a major barrier to get a job.

Mullins says, ‘I’m pretty old fashioned when it comes to employing people to do something in my business. If I ask them to come and do a job of work for me then I expect to pay them; anything else is tantamount to slavery.

‘Despicable’ companies should be publicly shamed

‘Companies that take advantage of young people’s sometimes desperate need to gain experience, in my view, are despicable and should be publicly shamed for such abuse of power.’

Mullins adds that unpaid internships put poorer candidates at a disadvantage because they just cannot afford not to work, compared to their richer peers, and this is a huge blockage to the government’s social mobility agenda, which he ‘wholeheartedly supports’.

The entrepreneur also says there is ‘no excuse whatsoever’ for allowing someone to toil on your behalf and not pay them just because you can.

‘This kind of behaviour must be made as unacceptable as not paying the national minimum wage to employees, no excuses or exceptions!’ he adds. ‘This is why I’m 100 per cent behind Alec Shelbrooke’s bill.’

Further reading on internships and small businesses

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.