Last week, I stumbled upon a post on Linkedin that read, “Graduates should refuse to be abused by employers looking for free labour in terms of internship”.
The National Council for Higher Education states on its official website that it supervises 282 institutions and 4,921 programmes. Every year, innumerable graduates are churned out by these institutions.
Unfortunately, many of these young and enthusiastic folks cannot get paying jobs because of the well-documented serial unemployment in this country. So, many of them opt for “internship opportunities” that promise practical experience.
These “opportunities” are not only unethical but exploitative. Employers are now using the flimsy excuse of Covid-19 to avoid paying these graduates who are tasked with voluminous responsibilities.
As I was preparing to write this article, a close friend rang me and intimated that he was distressed because he had been volunteering at his place of work for more than 15 months without any formal employment contract.
Regulation 39 of the Employment Regulations No. 61 of 2011 is clear; a person should not be employed as a casual employee for a period exceeding four months. After four months, workers are entitled to a formal employment contract.
Employers are taking advantage of desperate graduates to get labour in exchange of zero shillings. How do they expect these folks to meet their ever increasing rent, feeding, and transport costs?
Employers should be more empathetic to the plight of these young graduates. Parliament and other responsible stakeholders should also do their part by passing a law imposing a minimum wage for graduate interns because practical experience will not pay their bills.
Ronald Okiring, Lawyer