labor US Oil Firm Halliburton Branded ‘Obscene’ Over Unpaid UK Internships
Oil industry company Halliburton has been branded “obscene” for advertising unpaid UK internships, which critics say give an unfair advantage to people from privileged backgrounds.
In an advert on its recruitment site, Halliburton said it was seeking “people who want to innovate, achieve, grow and lead” for student internships at its office in Chiswick, west London
The Texas-based oilfield services company, which reported revenues of $16bn (£12bn) last year, said the full-time positions were part of an unpaid work experience programme. The advert, discovered by careers blog Graduate Fog, also claims Halliburton is an equal opportunities employer.
The Labour party has pledged to ban such schemes in its manifesto, on the basis that it is “not fair for some to get a leg up when others can’t afford to”.
Justin Madders, who is campaigning to be returned as Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said young people from less wealthy backgrounds might not be able to afford to take unpaid roles instead of a part-time job.
“For one of the richest companies in the world to be taking on full-time employees without pay says everything you need to know about what is wrong with the attitude of some big businesses to being ethical employer,” Madders said.
“They should hang their heads in shame. There really can be no justification for such outrageous exploitation. The Labour party manifesto has a clear commitment to ending such obscene practices.”
Interns in the UK are entitled to the national minimum wage unless they are under 16 or are taking part in a student internship for less than a year as part of a school or university course.
Halliburton said applicants for its unpaid positions could use their work as part of a degree but did not say whether they formed part of a recognised course in partnership with specific universities.
In a statement, the company said it “provides some unpaid internship opportunities to college students in an effort to provide practical work experience which can be used to achieve higher qualification and obtain employment within the industry when students graduate.
“During the internships, students work on projects that can be used in dissertations and studies that are essential to graduate. Halliburton also has a paid internship programme across all areas of its global organisation.”
The company declined to say how many unpaid internships it was offering, or whether successful applicants would receive expenses for travel or food.
Tanya de Grunwald, the founder of Graduate Fog, said it was unclear how the roles fitted in with university courses. “Halliburton is worth billions – it’s outrageous they’re asking their young staff to work for free when they can more than afford to pay the living wage. Certainly, few big UK firms would make this mistake in 2017.
“If this is a proper student placement it should be clearly labelled as such, include a clear start and end date, and be advertised through universities who will ensure it meets the requirements for course credit. You can’t just call something a student placement to justify it being unpaid.”
The government has commissioned Matthew Taylor, an ex-adviser to the former Labour prime minister Tony Blair, to review modern employment practices.