The government should outlaw advertisements for unpaid long-term internships to end a loophole through which "it remains lawful for employers to advertise for positions which in themselves are unlawful", Labour MP Hazel Blears has said.
Introducing a ten minute rule bill on 5 December 2012, the MP for Salford and Eccles said: "It is clear that if people are required to attend work for set hours and carry out specific duties they are legally a worker under the national minimum wage legislation and entitled to be paid as such.
"This is the clear legal advice of the Department for Business's own lawyers."
It was therefore "a complete nonsense" that adverts for such positions were still allowed, the former cabinet minister argued.
"In the current economic climate it is all too easy for unscrupulous employers to exploit the hopes and dreams of young people by offering long-term unpaid internships which require them to work for free.
"Long term unpaid internships are a modern day scandal, they are rife in the very areas where so many young people are desperate to get a foothold.
"The worst offenders are employers in media, fashion, finance and until recently and I'm ashamed to say so in politics too."
She concluded: "By outlawing the advertising of unpaid internships the government would send a clear message that unpaid internships actually shut down opportunities for more people than they open up, the practice is counterproductive to social mobility and the principle of asking people to live and work for free is wrong."
Her Internships (Advertising and Regulation) Bill was given an unopposed first reading but is unlikely to become law without government support.