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Unpaid intern receives £4,600 from Sony

An intern who worked for 3 months without pay has received £4,600 after taking legal action against Sony

3 September 2013

Leigh Day employment solicitor Jasmine Patel acted for an unpaid intern who has received over £4,600 after working for Sony for three months.

In April this year the employment minister Jo Swinson referred 100 companies to HM Revenue & Customs for allegedly breaching minimum wage laws by employing young unpaid interns.  Unpaid internships are often seen as the only route into particular professions, including the media and fashion industries, but in many cases they are illegal.  If someone is working in an organisation and works set hours and carries out specific tasks which add value to the organisation they are likely to be workers and therefore entitled to the national minimum wage.

Chris Jarvis spent three months working for Sony in Cambridge in 2012.  Jarvis, a video games design graduate, spent three hours a day commuting to the Sony office and was fully integrated into the team he was in, developing a computer game. The tasks on which he was engaged, specifically testing 3-D artwork for the game, were essential to its development.

When he approached the HR department at Sony to let them know he was entitled to the minimum wage of £6.19 an hour he was told that as he was volunteering he was not entitled to any pay.

Specialist employment solicitor at Leigh Day Jasmine Patel, who represented Mr Jarvis, said:

 “If someone is working set hours and is adding value to the company so that if they were not doing the task someone else would have to be paid to do it, then it is more likely they will be defined as a worker in law, entitled to be paid.

“Voluntary workers can only be employed unpaid by a charity, a voluntary organisation, an associated fund-raising body or a statutory body, and even then only if certain conditions are met.”

To speak to a member of the employment law team at Leigh Day please phone 020 7650 1200.

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