Many HR professionals say unpaid internships unfair

HRPA survey finds HR professionals believe unpaid internships not tied to training should be illegal.

TORONTO, April 10, 2014 /CNW/ - Almost two-thirds (62%) of Human Resources professionals believe unpaid internships not tied to education or training should be illegal, according to a recent survey conducted by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) and Canadian HR Reporter magazine.

Of those respondents who work at organizations that currently offer unpaid internships, almost 60% said they should be illegal, providing an interesting perspective on the issue from HR professionals charged with overseeing internship programs.

"Many respondents said that no organization should be exempt from the Employment Standards Act, particularly concerning minimum wage laws," said survey author Kristina Hidas, HRPA's VP HR Research and Development. "Other respondent concerns included that unpaid internships displace paid workers, and that the practice is unfair because it provides an advantage to wealthy young people who receive family support while working for no pay."

Other survey stats:

  • 68% of HR managers working in organizations with less than 50 employees said they should be illegal, while 45% working in large organizations (with more than 5,000) employees said the same
  • 20% of respondents are concerned that unpaid internships displace paid workers
  • A third of respondents say unpaid internships only benefit the organization
  • A third of respondents have seen the number of unpaid internships at their organizations increase over the past five years

Internship value
"Many respondents did feel there was a place for unpaid internships—as long as it's tied to education and training," said Hidas. "They provide young people with important work experience, as well as an opportunity to build networks and acquire important, transferable, skills.

"Many members said unpaid internships should exist within specific frameworks:  that they be run as part of a larger educational program; be limited in length of time (i.e., three to six months); and offer compensation for expenses like food and travel. And that the role of HR professionals can be pivotal in brokering internships that benefit both the employer and the individual."

The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) is the professional regulatory body and the professional association for Human Resources professionals in Ontario.

SOURCE: Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario

For further information: For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Duff McCutcheon, Communications Specialist, HRPA,, 416 923-2324 x324


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Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario

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